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The Persistent Petitioner: Mary Burden, Oliver Cromwell and the Wiltshire Justices of the Peace
In an earlier blogpost on the Civil War Petitions website, David Appleby charted the tenacious efforts of a maimed soldier, William Gray of Braintree in Essex, to secure a pension from the interregnum authorities. Gray’s petitioning labours are impressive, but they are mirrored and even outshone by the resolve and persistence of a widowed mother from Wiltshire, Mary Burden, who petitioned the local bench for welfare relief on no fewer than seven occasions in the 1650s. Burden was even able to call on the support of Oliver Cromwell in her efforts to secure financial support following her husband’s death in military service. A previous blog by Ismini Pells highlighted Cromwell's support for the military pension scheme, but what did this support actually mean to those petitioners like Burden who endeavoured to secure a pension? Lloyd Bowen investigates... Our petitioner was born Mary Comley. She married William Burden in the Wiltshire market town of Corsham on 27 May 1638. Corsham was in a part of the county which had prospered through the wool and cloth industry, although this sector of the economy had seen something of a downturn in recent decades. It is possible that William Burden was involved in the clothing business as his wife would later describe his substantial investment in ‘goods & merchandizes’, by which she may have indicated cloth and fabrics. Civil war swept through England as William and Mary were starting a family: their first child was born only nine months after their nuptials and in a petition of 1656 Mary mentioned her six surviving children. We do not have evidence to show that William Burden served in the first or second civil wars, although it seems likely that he did so. However, in 1649 he ‘tooke up armes for the parliament’ and joined the New Model forces which sailed for Ireland. He became a captain in Colonel Petty’s regiment under Lord General Cromwell, and his wife claimed that, ‘coming newly to his troope’, he laid out some £100 ‘in horses for the state’. This substantial outlay suggests that Burden was a man of some substance and means. Venturing out from his garrison, however, William Burden was caught in up in an unidentified encounter with Irish forces, suffering ‘divers hurts & bruises by meanes whereof he dyed’. Mary’s eldest child at this point was only ten years old, and the family faced a hard and uncertain future. Mary Burden clearly struggled to maintain her family and needed support. In November 1650 she appears (as ‘Mary Burdon’) as one of a plethora of widows whose petitions for relief were referred by the Rump Parliament to the Committee of the Army for consideration. Perhaps her representation was brought before the House by a useful intermediary: could this have been Cromwell himself? We do not know what happened with Mary’s petition on this occasion, but she was evidently not satisfied with whatever resolution was made on her behalf. Thus it was in 1652 that she turned for help and assistance (perhaps once more, perhaps for the first time) to the most powerful man in the country: her husband’s sometime commanding officer, Oliver Cromwell. In October of that year, the Wiltshire justices recorded the lamentable estate of Mary Burden whose case had been recommended to them by the Lord General. We do not possess Mary’s petition to Cromwell (she later claimed that the sessions’ clerk lost or mislaid his order thereon), but he was an officer who took a keen interest in the welfare and support of his troops and their families. Indeed, in February 1652 the Wiltshire bench received a directive from Cromwell that ‘ye widdowes and orphants of those whose husbands and fathers have died … should be alowed a competent pencion in the respective counties where such souldiers inhabited or tooke up armes’. Despite the ordinances in place to ensure that these groups received sufficient support, Cromwell complained that many worthy cases had been refused by local JPs, and that many men and women where thereby ‘exposed to greate extreamity’. Perhaps with these phrases ringing in their ears, the local justices must have been impressed with the strings of patronage that Mary had managed to pull in her own case. Consequently, they awarded her a substantial payment of £10, although this was a single gift and not the pension which Mary evidently desired. As a result of failing to meet her ongoing needs, in April 1653 Mary submitted the first of her many petitions to the Wiltshire county bench when it met at Devizes. A substantial document, she presented herself as the widow of ‘Captayne William Burden’, and told the narrative of her husband venturing to Ireland with £120 in goods which he transported apparently in the hope of selling them there, and that, because she had received no payment for these goods, which were apparently secured on credit, she ‘cannot safely stay at home to manage any maner of dealing for feare of being arrested’. She also made sure to mention the big guns she had in her representational arsenal: Cromwell’s earlier recommendation of her case which was being held on file by the county clerk Francis Swanton, and which, she averred, directed the justices to give her a ‘competent maintenance … until such tyme as the parliament should settle upon her some yearely livelywhood’. A difference arose, however, between Mary Burden on the one hand and the Wiltshire justices on the other over the meaning of Cromwell’s directive that Burden should receive a ‘competent maintenance’. Mary evidently felt that this was a commitment to an annual pension, but the JPs had a very different interpretation. Rather than a considerable ongoing commitment, they felt that they had discharged their duty to her with a substantial gratuity. Despite these differences, and perhaps mindful of Cromwell’s looming presence in the matter, the justices nevertheless resolved to award Mary another single payment of £10. However, their irritation with her presumption in petitioning them so soon after receiving a considerable sum, seems evident in their ruling that she should only receive her payment after all other pensions in the county were satisfied first: Mary Burden was not to take any of the monies which were required to meet the county’s commitments to its regular body of pensioners. A year later, in April 1654, Mary Burden once again appeared with a petition at the Devizes sessions. She had recently been arrested and was currently languishing in prison – she had not received bail and was only appearing before the justices under sufferance. Mary had been arrested for non-payment relating to those goods which her husband had ‘adventured’ into Ireland. Perhaps emboldened by her desperate situation (in addition to her own predicament, Mary described her household as ‘being sick’), Mary attempted a piece of historical revisionism. She asserted that in February 1652 the justices had granted her a pension of £10 per annum rather than the single payment which was, in fact, the case, and she now requested that this pension be paid ‘to supply her present necessity’. The magistrates do not seem to have been impressed, however, and no order of any kind was forthcoming. Undeterred by this setback, and given greater urgency by the fact that she herself had now fallen lame and sick, Mary attended the Marlborough sessions in October 1654 with a new appeal. She again rolled out Cromwell’s recommendation of her case and begged the justices for ‘an yerely pencion according to the … Lord Generalls letter & the late ordinances of parliament’. Mary was clearly a canny operator and was looking to raise the spectre not only of (now Lord Protector) Cromwell’s particular interest in her case, but also his more general concern, as expressed in his February 1652 directive, that needy widows such as herself be relieved by the local authorities. However, the JPs again refused to fall for her claim that Cromwell had authorised her an annual pension, and the fact that they were running out of patience with her continued demands is indicated by their order that she be awarded £5, ‘& she [is] not to expect any more for the future to be payd unto her by the treasurer’. They evidently hoped that this would draw a line under the matter and that they would no longer be troubled by Widow Burden. Some chance! Six months later, in April 1655, Mary was once more at Devizes petitioning the sessions and claiming Cromwell’s authority for an annual pension of £10 which ‘hath bin wholy detained from her’. The sessions order book reveals the justices’ exasperation, noting that she had been allowed several previous payments and had ‘often promised to be contented therewith’; but she kept coming back with Cromwell’s name in her mouth! She was again awarded £5, ‘promiseinge to be troublesome noe further in this kynde’. It seems that this should be the end of her story, but after the apparent stop put on her representations to the Wiltshire sessions, Mary resolved to return to the patronage well which had worked for her previously. She journeyed to London and somehow once more found Cromwell’s ear, likely telling him her piteous story of service, widowhood, indebtedness and imprisonment, and likely also of her frustrations with the Wiltshire bench. And once again Cromwell intervened on her behalf. On 4 July 1655 he ordered that Mary, as the widow of ‘Captaine William Bourden’, should receive a ‘competent pention’ from the Wiltshire sessions to maintain herself and her numerous children. His order, sent from Whitehall and surmounted by ‘Oliver P’ survives as the first document in the ‘Autograph Book’ compiled from notable records found among the quarter sessions rolls (or ‘Great Rolls’) in the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. Faced with the Lord Protector’s direct order, the justices allowed Mary another interim payment of £5, and directed that her case be considered further at the justices’ Easter meeting. So it was that in April 1656, after some difficulty with submitting the order to the sessions clerk, Mary demanded that her pension be confirmed, ‘that she may not any more be necessitated to travell either to him [Cromwell] or hither [to the sessions]’. Cromwell’s intervention secured Mary Burden an annual pension of £4. She had finally achieved a degree of secure financial support. Surely the Wiltshire justices could now rest easy. Of course they couldn’t! In October 1656 Burden presented a substantial petition to the Wiltshire justices lamenting the small amount she had been awarded, ‘which … cannot be a compitent pencion for the maintenance of her selfe and children’. Mary further maintained that she had not received a promised parcel of land in Ireland which was her husband’s debenture settlement from the Army and, moreover, that she was deeply indebted because of ‘many grevouse suits in lawe and … likewise [the] very tediouse sicknesse that it hath pleased God to inflict uppon her familie’. She thus asked the bench to augment her pension, a task it referred to Colonel William Eyre who was directed to examine what monies had been given to her previously and, who, if he saw fit, was to provide for a modest augmentation that should not exceed £5. The indefatigable Mary Burden’s petitioning story was not quite finished, however. Her constant entreaties and her refusal to act the demure and silent role of a grateful widow had likely alienated many of the justices. Moreover, they cannot have enjoyed having their orders crossed by a woman who could bring the Lord Protector into the equation. Thus it was in a review of pensions in north Wiltshire in October 1657 that, for reasons which are not recorded, the bench decided to stop Mary’s pension altogether, a mere eighteen months after it had been granted. In desperation she petitioned the bench for a final time in April 1659, ‘in a very lowe condicion’ and drowning in debt. She requested that her pension arrears be paid and that the award be reinstated ‘for her releife’. Instead, she received a single donation of forty shillings. The Restoration, of course, put paid to any hopes Mary Burden may have had of continued support from Wiltshire’s pension pot. Cromwell’s name was now anathema rather than a totem which might unlock the coffers of local welfare. We do not know how Mary fared with her debts and the challenges of single motherhood. She died, still a widow, in March 1678 and was buried in Corsham. Her life is poorly documented beyond her petitions, but these reveal a remarkably determined and resourceful woman. She was unflagging in her efforts to secure financial support for herself and for her family. Her case also reveals how resources of central patronage could be leveraged to apply pressure to local authorities in cases of military welfare. Return petitioners were not necessarily uncommon among the widowed and maimed of the civil wars, but Mary Burden’s seven petitions in six years constitute an unusual archive of dogged and tenacious resolve. Further reading Imogen Peck, ‘The Great Unknown: The Negotiation and Narration of Death by English War Widows, 1647-60’, Northern History, 53:2 (2016), pp. 220-235. David Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England, 1603-1660 (Oxford, 1985). Hannah Worthen, ‘Supplicants and Guardians: The Petitions of Royalist Widows during the Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1642–1660’, Women’s History Review, 26:4 (2017), pp. 528-40. John Wroughton, An Unhappy Civil War: The Experiences of Ordinary People in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, 1642-46 (Bath, 1999).
‘The hungry jaws of want’ – Basing House and the Maw of War
A siege is one of the cruellest forms of warfare. It turns neighbourhoods into warzones and terrorises local communities. Inside the lines, food and drink, health and hope, even life and death become variables in a mass human experiment that shreds the nerves and saps morale. In her new book about the sieges of Basing House, Jessie Childs recovers the shock of the conflict by following it on the ground, as experienced by various individuals before, during and after the war. In this blog, she demonstrates how petitions are an invaluable resource both in giving a sense of the people behind the statistics and in contributing to a richer picture of the political and military context. The ‘humble petition of Captain Robert Amery’, for example, submitted in December 1660 and now in The National Archives, adds fresh details to the story of the build-up to war (TNA SP 29/25, fols. 40-42). Amery was a captain in the ‘London Regiment’ of Sir Marmaduke Rawdon in the royalist garrison at Basing House, but before the war he had been a vintner, and before that, a member of the Musicians’ Company. He was critical of the ‘five members’ of parliament, whom Charles I had tried to arrest on 4 January 1642, and he ‘declared against them & their unjust proceedings’ at a city meeting soon afterwards. Amery claims in his petition that he would have been ‘torn in pieces by the rude multitude had he not been rescued & conveyed away from their rage & fury’. Like many other Londoners, Amery did not hasten to the king’s standard when it was raised at Nottingham on 22 August 1642. Instead, he stayed on in the capital and campaigned for a peaceful settlement. According to his petition, he was ‘employed as chief agent to deliver the petition for peace to Isaac Pennington, then Lord Mayor of London, at the Court of Aldermen. It being cried down and rejected, your petitioner, with others, were in danger of their lives’. There is a real sense of jeopardy here in calling for peace at a time, and in a city, where the momentum seemed to be all for the war. ‘Afterwards,’ Amery continues, he was ‘forced to hide himself for refusing to take up arms for the parliament’ and was ultimately constrained ‘to forsake his house and leave his family in distress’. Sometime in late 1642 or early 1643, he fled to the king’s headquarters in Oxford, ‘where he lay a long time at his great charge’, before joining Rawdon’s regiment and marching forty miles south to Basing House. ‘Loyalty House’, as the royalists called it, was the palatial Hampshire mansion of John Paulet, 5th Marquess of Winchester and his half-Irish wife, Honora. Both were Catholic and their home became not only a royalist garrison, but a civilian refuge. Rumour had it that it was also a depository for royalist treasure. To parliamentarians, it was a bastion of Stuart degeneracy: a ‘limb of Babylon’ that required amputation. It was strategically important because it was almost equidistant from London and Oxford and commanded the main road to the West, but it mattered symbolically too, especially after November 1643, when William ‘the Conqueror’ Waller failed to take it with a much larger force. Amery’s wife and children eventually joined him at Basing House. They had been ‘so violently persecuted’, in London, he claimed, and harried ‘from place to place, that they suffered exceedingly by abuses & want of maintenance’ and had no option but to escape. They weren’t the only ones. Winchester accused Rawdon of having too many ‘useless mouths’ in his regiment. Rawdon retorted that Winchester had at least three for one in his (Hampshire Record Office, 40 M93/1). The women were far from useless, however, and during Waller’s assault, the marchioness and her ladies stripped lead from the roof to make musket balls, while others hurled down rocks. A petition submitted in 1665 by one Katherine Haswell (TNA SP 29/113, fol. 173) shows that she, like Katherine de Luke (see Stewart Beale’s blog on Katherine de Luke), acted as an intelligencer. Her father, she claims, ‘was kept during the late rebellion in chains, upon his late Majesty’s account; her brother likewise lost his life at Edgehill’. Haswell herself, ‘after many services upon a royal account in carrying of letters and the like, was dangerously wounded by the rebels at Basing House whereby she is utterly disabled from a livelihood’. She requested that her husband, ‘a foremast man, though formerly an officer’, receive a promotion in the Navy. ‘The rebels’, as the royalists called the parliamentarians, also suffered during their varied attempts to take Basing House, as several petitions unearthed by the Civil War Petitions Project reveal. Jeremiah Maye of Ashdon, Essex, for example, had been impressed into the company of Captain John Smith in the regiment of Sir William Waller. He had taken part in the November assault on Basing House, which had seen many of his comrades burn to death in the farm outhouses or be peppered by case shot in the park. Maye’s injuries are not specified, but were clearly severe: ‘He received divers hurts and wounds in his body, which renders him unfit for future service or any ways able to maintain himself and languishing family, being now in a most sad and deplorable condition.’ Maye begged for a pension, or ‘some present relief’, to save him from ‘the hungry jaws of want’. A certificate survives, stamped with the seal of Oliver Cromwell and dated 10 January 1651, desiring ‘a competent weekly pension for his relief and maintenance’. It seems that this was not enough to impress the JPs, who only awarded Maye a one-off gratuity of £2. The summer of 1644 saw another major attempt on Basing House, this time with a lengthy blockade. Richard ‘Idle Dick’ Norton sat down before the house in June with forces from Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex. Within a month, the siege lines were drawn to within half a musket shot of the house. ‘Continual firing,’ recorded an anonymous diarist inside the house, ‘pouring lead into the garrison, they spoil us two or three a day’. (BL Thomason, E 27/5, p. 5) A letter sent by a Roundhead to London on 5 July reported that the Cavaliers were in serious trouble. ‘Since our throwing up a trench against them, the enemy are very still . . . We hope they cannot long hold out.’ (The Weekly Account, 4-11 July 1644 [E 54/24]). But the garrison did hold out, all through the summer and into November, when Norton finally raised the siege. According to the anonymous diarist, the garrison was ‘drawn down by length of siege almost unto the worst of all necessities, provision low, the soldiers spent and naked and the numbers few’. But the besiegers were also ‘wearied with lying 24 weeks, diseases, with the winter seizing them’ and their army ‘wasted from 2,000 to 700’. One Sussex captain, serving under Colonel Herbert Morley, was shot dead by a garrison sniper on 20 July. Three weeks later, Morley himself was ‘bored through the shoulder’ while viewing the works in the park (Mercurius Aulicus, 11-17 August 1644 [E 8/20]). Over a decade afterwards, in January 1656, John Doyt, also of Morley’s regiment, petitioned the Sussex JPs for aid, claiming that he had received ‘several wounds’ at Basing House, ‘much to the prejudice of my labour, as will appear upon search by any surgeon’. The appeal was successful. Doyt was allotted 30 shillings upfront and £3 per year. Another Sussex parliamentarian, Thomas Anstie of Keymer, survived the summer siege, ‘bearing his parts faithfully with his fellows’, only to have an arm ‘shot off with a cannon’ at Weymouth. He was a poor man with a wife and three children, according his certificate (6 October 1645), and seems to have been popular, since seventeen men backed his petition to the Lewes JPs: ‘Our poor do lie very heavy upon us already,’ they conceded, ‘yet we are willing to contribute to his relief’. The support from Anstie’s neighbours seems to have won over the JPs, who awarded the veteran a gratuity of 40 shillings and an annual pension of £4. Eight days later Basing House fell to Oliver Cromwell and some 7,000 troops of the New Model Army. At least 100 defenders were slain in the storming, 100 were taken prisoner and 100 hid in the house’s underground vaults and priest-holes. It has always been assumed that they perished in the fire that blazed through the house afterwards, but three separate London newsbooks state that they re-emerged from their holes two days later. ‘I need not tell you how glad the country people are hereabouts that Basing is reduced to the obedience of the parliament,’ reported a Roundhead from Cromwell’s quarters on the day of the storm (Perfect Passages, 8–15 Oct. 1645 (E 266/2), 408). He was hardly impartial, but it was true that most locals did not mourn Loyalty House. They grieved for lost lives and property, though. The garrison had devoured their crops, grass and wood, and all too often the besiegers had done the same. All those within the manor of Basing itself ‘are so miserably poor that there is nothing from them to be had or expected’, recorded the Hampshire Compounding Committee in 1650 (TNA SP 23/251, no. 132, fol. 272). Francis Ivory of The George Inn, Basingstoke was ‘so insolvent that he dareth not show his head’. One more set of appeals are worth a final mention. They were submitted by a royalist widow called Mary Peake to the dean and chapter of Canterbury Cathedral between 1661 and 1666 (Canterbury Cathedral Archives, DCc–CantLet/116, 134, 143; CCA DCc– PET /208, 209). Mary’s late husband had been a cathedral prebendary, and in three letters and two petitions, she documents the trials of her post-war widowhood. On 23 November 1664, she writes of ‘having a long time lien under sickness and lameness’, adding that ‘my age bringing every day with it new diseases and griefs’. She survived ‘the dreadful pestilence’ of 1665, ‘but my poverty is such that unless I be relieved by your wonted charity, I am like to perish’. The following year, she lost everything in the Great Fire of London. Her last surviving letter, dated 29 October 1666 and written from a room in Fetter Lane, explains that ‘all my children’s habitations were burned down to the ground’ and that she was having to share a chamber with another woman, ‘for which I do pay weekly, or else must be outed again’. She had written to the dean since the fire, asking for accommodation within the cathedral precincts, ‘but it seems it has been my unhappiness that my letter came not to your hands, for I have not received any answer to it.’ Mary’s late husband was Dr Humfrey Peake, a royal chaplain as well as cathedral prebendary, ‘who,’ she writes, ‘for his loyalty to his king & master & constant defence of the Church of England, sacrificed both himself & his family’. He had died soon after the storming of Basing House and was related to a senior officer there, the print-seller Robert Peake. It is possible that he witnessed the siege himself. Just before his death, he wrote a little-known book call Meditations upon a Seige [sic.] (1646). It is a first-hand account of siege warfare and clearly the result of some personal experience, indeed trauma. He writes of the ‘sad spectacle’ of death, the ‘intolerable stench’ of it, and the ‘hideous shapes’ of it ever stalking his dreams. It is hard to disagree with his introductory words: ‘Amongst the many ways of enmity, whereby in a declared war men use to express their endeavours to ruin one another: this of a siege is the sharpest and the saddest.’ The Siege of Loyalty House by Jessie Childs was published by Bodley Head on 19 May 2022.
‘The endeavours of your servants’: Oliver Cromwell, Military Welfare and Civil War Petitions
The figure of Oliver Cromwell looms large over the history of the Civil Wars. The working farmer who rose to be head of state, the Captain with no prior military experience who became General of one of England’s most successful armies, the man who provokes reverence in some and revulsion in others: it is seemingly impossible to escape mention of this man when discussing the events of the mid-seventeenth century. So, now in its fifth year, it is finally time for Civil War Petitions to consider, in this blog by Ismini Pells, the relationship of Oliver Cromwell to the military pension scheme and his role in the politics surrounding military welfare during and after the Civil Wars. A search of the Civil War Petitions website in its current state reveals that Cromwell is known to have provided certificates for the petitions of at least nineteen maimed soldiers and war widows. This is more than any other military commander, parliamentarian or royalist. This is particularly noteworthy considering that the overwhelming majority of material that has survived dates from the royalist period of administering the pension system from 1660 onwards. It might be pointed out that Cromwell was Lord General of the New Model Army (and served for a much longer time period than Thomas Fairfax) and his later political prominence as Lord Protector may have made him a more attractive target to claimants seeking support for their petitions. However, all but seven of the cases on the Civil War Petitions website that Cromwell provided certificates for date from the time before he was installed as Lord Protector. Of the remaining seven, three date to 1654 (i.e. shortly after he was enthroned as Protector). The earliest evidence for certificates issued by Cromwell dates from 1650. No doubt more instances will emerge of Cromwell supporting petitions from maimed soldiers and war widows during the time he was Lord Protector, especially as the Civil War Petitions project publishes the State Papers collections in The National Archives. These collections contain the petitions submitted to central government authorities and thus will include the petitions addressed to Cromwell from claimants seeking pensions funded from central government authorities, over which Cromwell had an influence as Lord Protector. However, as far as the veterans and widows who obtained pensions from the quarter sessions were concerned, the evidence found so far suggests that the number of certificates issued by Cromwell in support of these cases spiked during the period 1651-3. Cromwell was hardly unique in his keen sense of the duty of care owed by an officer to his men. In an earlier blog, Andrew Hopper drew attention to support given by Sir Thomas Fairfax to the claims of one maimed soldier and the widow of another soldier who had been known personally to him. Likewise, Philip Skippon, commander of the infantry in the New Model Army, issued a certificate on behalf of the widow of John Francis, who had been killed at Naseby whilst Lieutenant-Colonel of Skippon’s own regiment (TNA, SP 28/265, fol. 308). On the royalist side, Mark Stoyle highlighted the endorsements by Bartholomew Gidley of Winkleigh, a former captain in the king’s forces in the Southwest, on the petitions of several maimed soldiers from Devon in support of their claims. Stoyle concluded that this was ‘striking evidence of the fact that the bonds between some former Royalist officers and their soldiers had continued to endure long after the Civil War was over’. Indeed, the Civil War Petitions website displays further evidence in support of Stoyle’s argument in the twelve certificates issued by James Compton, earl of Northampton, for veterans of his regiment from Northamptonshire who had fought for the king’s cause. As these cases show, the sense of noblesse oblige was especially keenly felt when the soldier was personally known to the commander. Thus, it is especially interesting that Cromwell seems to have issued numerous certificates on behalf of individuals that he cannot have known personally. For example, on 12 July 1653, the Denbighshire Quarter Sessions which met at Wrexham ordered that upon the certificate of the Lord General dated 15 June 1652 that Aron Hughes was killed in the parliament’s service, a pension of 40 shillings per annum be granted and allowed to Ann Hughes, widow, to maintain herself and children. It was recorded that ‘the said Aron having taken armes in this county & killed at Mountgomery’. The battle of Montgomery, fought on 18 September 1644, was a large-scale battle that resulted in a decisive parliamentarian victory. However, the parliamentarian army on this occasion was led by Sir Thomas Myddleton and Colonel Thomas Mytton, with detachments led by Sir John Meldrum, Sir William Brereton and Sir William Fairfax. Not only was Cromwell not present, but it is highly unlikely that he would have met Aron Hughes if Hughes, as his widow claimed, had enlisted in Myddleton’s native Denbighshire and thus possibly only for the Montgomery campaign. A similar example is provided by the petition from Christian Markes of South Petherton, widow of Lieutenant Frauncis Markes, to the Somerset Quarter Sessions. Despite providing a certificate for Christian Markes, any personal relationship between Cromwell and the deceased lieutenant seems unlikely. Cromwell did not fight in the earl of Essex’s campaigns in the Southwest in June to September 1644 and, with the exception of a brief sojourn between the battle of Edgehill on 23 October 1642 (to which Cromwell arrived late) and the battle of Turnham Green on 13 November (an abortive stand-off), Cromwell did not fight alongside the earl’s army until the second battle of Newbury on 27 October 1644 – after Frauncis Markes’s death. Nevertheless, Cromwell’s certificate did the trick and the court awarded a gratuity of £4 ‘to Christian Markes recommended by the Generall for reliefe’. Interestingly, Cromwell provided certificates for war widows in almost equal numbers to those he issued for maimed soldiers: nine of the nineteen claimants Cromwell is known to have supported were widows. There is evidence from the later period when claimants began to seek support from Cromwell as Lord Protector for monetary relief from central government funds to suggest that his support for the widow’s cause was both well-known and well-exploited. Jane Meldrum, widow of Colonel John Meldrum, petitioned Cromwell on 29 March 1655 that she hoped ‘yo[u]r Highnes wil bee gratiously pleased to Number her amongst yo[u]r distressed widows whom God hath drawne forth of yo[u]r pious heart mercifully to relieve, And Christ will put it to yo[u]r Accompt on the Great day’ (TNA, SP 18/95/81, fol. 108). Meldrum aimed directly at Cromwell’s sense of Christian duty in a cunning attempt to provoke him into affirmative action, inferring that Cromwell was known for his willingness to look favourably on distressed war widows. Of course, it was not just widows who sought certificates from Cromwell to support their pension claims at the quarter sessions and Cromwell’s propensity to assist maimed soldiers in this matter was equally well known. On 2 January 1652, Richard Mabbon, as governor of the Savoy Hospital wrote to William Malin, secretary to Cromwell at the time. Mabbon requested Malin’s help in procuring a certificate from Cromwell for Samuell Miles, Robert Webb and six others maimed soldiers from Essex who intended to seek a pension from the quarter sessions at Chelmsford. As veterans of Worcester, Miles and his comrades had a clear claim to a certificate from Cromwell as the commander-in-chief of the New Model Army at that battle, fought on 3 September 1651. However, news of Cromwell’s willingness to provide certificates for maimed soldiers seems to have travelled fast within the county of Essex and, as was shown in the cases of widows, soldiers with no prior connection to Cromwell sought his support for their pension claims at the quarter sessions. One such soldier was Jeremiah Maye of Ashdon in Essex, who petitioned Cromwell around the beginning of January 1652. Cromwell duly obliged with a certificate on 10 January. Maye’s petition had plainly stated that the siege of Basing House at which he was wounded was not Cromwell’s devastating storm of 1645 but one of the earlier attempts made on the stronghold by Sir William Waller in either 1643 or 1644 (it is not entirely clear which). Thus, not only was there no military (let alone personal) connection between Maye and Cromwell, but Maye had been injured in an encounter that had happened at least seven or so years previously. Why did Maye approach Cromwell to support his belated claim for a pension and why did he consider the early 1650s to be as suitable time to do this? Indeed, why did Cromwell agree to issue Maye – a soldier with whom he had no connection – with a certificate at this time? These questions bring us neatly back to the observation made at the start of the article that the evidence gathered by the Civil War Petitions project so far suggests that the number of certificates issued by Cromwell in support of veterans and widows who obtained pensions from the quarter sessions spiked during the period 1651-3. Why was this? Perhaps the answer to these questions lay in the tensions between the army and parliament that followed the battle of Worcester. Following the final defeat of the royalists at Worcester, the Commonwealth was now in a secure position and the leading army officers, including Cromwell, returned to active politics at Westminster. At this time, parliament’s focus shifted from survival to debating the nature of the Commonwealth’s political settlement. Cromwell had signalled his vision for what form this political settlement should take in the oft-quoted passage from a letter written to Speaker Lenthall the day after the battle: "The dimensions of this mercy are above my thoughts. It is, for aught I know, a crowning mercy. Surely, if it be not, such a one we shall have, if this provoke those that are concerned in it to thankfulness, and the Parliament to do the will of Him who hath His will for it, and for the nation; whose good pleasure it is to establish the nation and the change of the government, by making the people so willing to the defence thereof, and so signally to bless the endeavours of your servants in this late great work. I am bold humbly to beg, that all thoughts may tend to the promoting of His honour who hath wrought so great salvation, and that the fatness of these continued mercies may not occasion pride and wantonness, as formerly the like hath done to a chosen nation; but that the fear of the Lord, even for His mercies, may keep an authority and a people so prospered, and blessed, and witnessed unto, humble and faithful; and that justice and righteousness, mercy and truth may flow from you as a thankful return to our gracious God." For Cromwell, the lesson of Worcester was that God had demonstrated his favour towards the army, parliament and the nation. Cromwell thus exhorted parliament to repay God’s favour in order to continue to benefit from it by showing their gratitude towards the ‘servants in this great work’ and adopting the programme of Church and law reform championed by the army. As these hopes failed to materialise over the next twelve months, the army became increasingly disillusioned with parliamentary delay in these matters and began agitating for the dissolution of the Rump. In August 1652, the army made a series of demands concerning the dissolution and calling of a new parliament, along with their requirements for religious reform, law reform, poor reform, and pay and welfare provisions for soldiers and veterans. Military welfare during the early 1650s was thus a matter interconnected with the army’s reform programme during this period. Although Cromwell pleaded for restraint with the army in their actions, he was heavily sympathetic towards their demands. Furthermore, Cromwell was disappointed with the Rump’s treatment of the army more generally, especially the failure to address the deficit in the army’s wage bill and the privileging of MPs’ friends over the army in the plans for the redistribution of Irish land. There is thus reason to suggest that Cromwell may have viewed his provision of certificates in support of maimed soldiers and war widows who were seeking pensions at the quarter sessions as a way of demonstrating his support for the army and its political policies at this time. Helping to ensure that those who had suffered for the service to the parliamentary cause received some degree of compensation for their sacrifices was not only an issue that was dear to Cromwell’s heart but an area over which he perhaps had more direct influence than other aspects of the army’s agenda. Issuing certificates for maimed soldiers and war widows did not require anyone else’s consent and was a far more straightforward affair than persuading his more conservative colleagues in parliament to pursue programmes of legal and religious reform which were prone to becoming bogged down in constitutional and spiritual entanglements. Cromwell’s enthusiasm for the army’s reform programme in the aftermath of the battle of Worcester reached its zenith around the time of his forcible dissolution of the Rump Parliament in April 1653 and the calling of Barebones Parliament in July of the same year. Yet within a year, Cromwell’s position had become more cautious – the same time that the stream of certificates issued by Cromwell for maimed soldiers and war widows at the quarter sessions begins to run dry. Time will tell if the hypothesis offered here will stand up to scrutiny with the completion of the Civil War Petitions project. However, at present, the evidence points towards the conclusion that Cromwell’s support for the military pensions distributed at the quarter sessions should not be viewed as an entirely uncontentious issue. Instead, it seems that this should be placed within the broader context of the army and parliament’s competing visions for the future of the nation that followed the end of the period of active fighting during the Civil Wars. Further Reading John Morrill, ‘Cromwell, Oliver (1599–1658), lord protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/6765. Stephen Roberts, ‘The battle of Worcester and the career of Oliver Cromwell’, Cromwelliana (1989), pp. 9-13. Blair Worden, The Rump Parliament, 1648-1653 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974).
A Vengeful Vicar and a Martyred Mother: The Petition of James Bamlett
It is the job of historians to read all sources critically, an especially important consideration when examining sources from the Civil Wars - an event characterised by bitter rivalries and contested memories. The documents on Civil War Petitions are no exception and provide a useful illustration of the ways political considerations could shape representations of the past. The stories contained in the petitions are permeated with hidden agendas and we should be cautious of taking these tales at face value. However, the claims and counter claims of the petitions are in themselves useful to historians, adding texture and nuance to our existing knowledge of the Civil Wars. In this blog, Mark Stoyle uses the petition of a Devon soldier to shed new light on one of the most well-known publications resulting from the Civil Wars... In 1714, John Walker - rector of the parish of St Mary Major in Exeter, and a steadfast Anglican - published the formidable work for which he is still remembered to this day: An Attempt towards Recovering an Account of the Numbers and Sufferings of the Clergy of the Church of England … in the Late Times of the Great Rebellion. As its somewhat ponderous title makes clear, Walker’s Sufferings was intended first, to calculate how many English and Welsh clergymen had been ejected, fined or otherwise ‘Harras’d’ by the enemies of the Crown during the Civil Wars and Interregnum, and second, to memorialise the tribulations that these individuals had undergone as a result of their good affection to the Royalist cause. Among the many hundreds of ‘loyal clergy’ who feature in Walker’s pages is Henry Smith: a man who was born, according to Walker, into a mercantile family at Great Torrington in North Devon, who was educated at the University of Oxford, and who eventually returned to his native county in order to take up a living in the rural parish of Cornwood, on the south-western fringes of Dartmoor. Walker provides a vivid account of Smith’s experiences during the First Civil War, telling us, among other things, that the vicar of Cornwood had been ‘a zealous loyalist’, that he had received ‘the Distinguishing Honour of a Visit from Prince Charles’, and that his Royalism had rendered him ‘very Obnoxious to the [Parliamentarian] Party’. Smith’s house had been ‘plundered by a Party of [Roundhead] Soldiers from the Garrison at Plymouth’, Walker notes, ‘who did not so much as leave him a Dish or a Spoon … [and] at the same time they plundered him of his Books’. Worse was still to come, moreover, for Walker goes on to relate that, after the war was over, Smith had been ‘kept prisoner for a long time, somewhere … about Plymouth … and at length sent to a common Jayl in Exeter, where he died soon after the Martyrdom of his Prince’: in other words, soon after the execution of Charles I in January 1649. There is no reason to doubt that much of what Walker tells us about Smith is true. Yet while Walker presents the vicar of Cornwood as an innocent abroad - as a hapless man of God who had been mercilessly harried from pillar to post by ‘Barbarous and Inhuman’ persecutors - a petition presented to the Devon justices of the peace half a century before the Sufferings was published paints a rather different picture, and suggests that the harshness with which the county’s post-war Parliamentarian governors had treated Smith may perhaps have reflected the pitiless attitude which he himself had displayed towards a pro-Parliamentarian country-woman at the height of the conflict. In 1648 Edmund Davyes and his fellow JPs, sitting at the general sessions at Exeter Castle, were presented with an unusual petition for redress from a certain James Bamlett, of Cornwood. Bamlett may have been one of Smith’s parishioners, but he had clearly not followed him into the Royalist camp. On the contrary, the Cornwood man informed the justices that ‘your Peticioner hath stoode always well affected towards the parliament’s service and hath bine a souldier in Plymouth dureinge the time of warres’. While he had been serving in the Parliamentarian garrison of Plymouth, Bamlett went on, he had been visited on several occasions by his mother, who ‘did resort there, as [often as] she could find an opportunity [in order] to supply your peticioner’s wants with such necessaryes as he wanted’: in other words, to provide her son with food, clothes and money. Yet these maternal mercy-missions - which must have involved Bamlett’s mother tramping the four miles from Cornwood, which lay deep within Royalist-held territory, all the way to the outworks of Plymouth, and back again - were soon to come to an abrupt end. For shortly after his mother’s ‘retorne to her owne home’ from one such expedition, Bamlett’s petition continues, ‘some notice was taken’ that she ‘had bine in Plymouth, whereuppon she was taken upp’ by a party of Royalist troopers and carried away to ‘the Marshals att Plympton’. This was almost certainly the temporary prison overseen by the provost marshal: the officer who was responsible for overseeing military discipline in the quarters then occupied by the besieging Royalist forces. Plympton, which lies just to the north-east of Plymouth, had long been the headquarters of the Royalist troops who had been blockading the Parliamentarian port, on and off, since the conflict began. Nothing is known of the marshal’s prison there, but it may well have stood within the walls of the Norman castle which overlooked the village itself. Here Mrs Bamlett was confined for a period of a month or six weeks, her son’s petition tell us, ‘till she came to her triall, and by that triall was found guiltie, and Condempt to die’. It seems unlikely that a woman would have been brought before a court martial simply for conveying provisions to a relative, so the suspicion must surely be that Mrs Bamlett stood accused of being a spy, who had carried in intelligence to the Roundhead garrison. Whatever the charge may have been, there was clearly at least one person in the Royalist camp who felt that the court’s sentence had been too harsh, for Bamlett goes on to relate that ‘thereuppon one Mistris Church prevailed soe far with Maior Generall Harres as she procured her [i.e. Mrs Bamlett’s] freedome, and paid for her fees [i.e. the charges that she had incurred during her imprisonment] 16 shillings, and thought all had gone on in a faire way, and went to have her out of the Marshal’s [prison]’. The identity of the gentlewoman who had interceded on Mrs Bamlett’s behalf is uncertain, but she may well have been the wife of Captain Edmond Church, a Royalist officer in Colonel Henry Carey’s regiment of horse: a unit which served, for many months, before Plymouth. ‘Maior Generall Harres’ can definitely be identified with Robert Harris of Staddon, in nearby Plymstock - and the fact that James Bamlett’s petition notes that it was to him that Mistress Church had directed her plea strongly suggests that the trial had taken place at some point in 1645, for it is during that year that Harris is known to have assumed overall command of the Royalist forces blockading Plymouth. As Mistress Church arrived at the prison door to secure the captive woman’s release, it must have seemed to Mrs Bamlett that she had escaped the hangman’s noose. But if so, she had reckoned without the malice of her local pastor, for ‘soe yt ys, may yt please your good worship[s]’, James Bamlett went on to lament: ‘That in the interim one Henry Smith, then Minister of Cornwood, beinge veary powerfull with Generall Harres, prevayled soe farr with him, that order was geven [that] she should not be delivered; but [she] was [instead] brought to the Marshall[’s] Chamber and had there Conference with the said Smith, who then told your Peticioner’s Mother, “That her sonne (meaninge your peticioner) said he would see his [i.e. Smith’s] Coate turned, but now he [i.e. Smith] would see her Coatte turned”, and thereupon [she] was returned to the Marshals [prison] againe, and within a veary short time after was executed, to the great greiffe, and discomfort of your peticioner and other her friends’. The precise meaning of the words which Henry Smith is alleged to have spoken to Mrs Bamlett in the marshal’s chamber remain a little obscure, but appear to indicate that on some previous occasion - perhaps when the Parliamentarian soldiers had sallied out from Plymouth to plunder Smith’s house? - James Bamlett had been unwise enough to express the opinion that he would live to see the day when the zealously Royalist cleric would be obliged to ‘turn his coat’, or to become a (constrained) Parliamentarian. Now, the vicar of Cornwood appears to have mockingly assured Mrs Bamlett - after he had persuaded Harris to reverse his earlier decision to spare her - he, Smith, would witness her receiving her just deserts - both for her own pro-Parliamentarianism and for her son’s impudence - by being ‘turned off’ at the gallows. Thus James Bamlett’s initial jibe at Smith and the clergyman’s subsequent gloating retort to Bamlett’s mother provide us with excellent illustrations of the way in which martial language began both to infiltrate and to inflect everyday speech during the English Civil Wars. It is hard to doubt that Bamlett’s mother was indeed executed by the Royalist military authorities at Plympton; her son concluded his petition in 1648 by begging the JPs to take his mother’s case ‘into Consideracion and to have the business duly examined, and further to inflict such punishment on … the said Smith as uppon due proffes touching her death shall appeare’. That Smith is said by Walker to have been imprisoned during the post-war period perhaps indicates that the justices did, indeed, seek to indict him for the heartless zeal with which he had pursued poor Mrs Bamlett to her death - and if the vicar of Cornwood did, indeed, die while immured in the common jail in Exeter, as Walker avers, then James Bamlett may well have regarded this as some small recompense for his mother’s own ‘sufferings’. Whether John Walker would have written quite so glowingly of Henry Smith had James Bamlett’s petition lain open before him as he bent himself to his task is something we will never know - but the document certainly raises the possibility that the clerical Royalism which the Exeter clergyman was later to eulogise with such wholehearted enthusiasm may sometimes have had a considerably darker edge to it than his narrative would tend to suggest. Further Reading Andrew Hopper, Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides during the English Civil War (Oxford, 2012). Fiona McCall, Baal’s Priests: The Loyalist Clergy and the English Revolution (Farnham, 2013). Mark Stoyle, Plymouth in the Civil War (Devon Archaeology, 7, Exeter, 1998).
Aristocratic Widowhood and Bereavement: The Household Accounts of Katherine, Lady Brooke
Whilst our project showcases the petitions for welfare penned for the war widows of officers and soldiers, it touches less on the experience of those widowed when aristocratic commanders were killed. Thanks to the survival of the Brooke Household Accounts in the Warwickshire County Record Office, Andrew Hopper shows there is much we can learn about the everyday life of Parliament’s foremost war widow, Katherine, Lady Brooke, after she lost her husband in the spring of 1643. In contrast to their many royalist counterparts, only two English noblewomen became parliamentarian war widows. The first of these was Arabella, Lady St John, whose husband Oliver St John, fifth baron St John of Bletso, was mortally wounded at Edgehill. The circumstances of Lord St John’s death did not lend themselves to successful parliamentarian propaganda. Arabella was allowed to retreat into a secluded and modest widowhood, hardly in keeping with her status as a peeress of the realm. The second to lose her husband in combat was Katherine, Lady Brooke (c.1618–1676), widow of Robert Greville, 2nd Lord Brooke (1607–1643). The contrast between the experience of widowhood by Katherine and Arabella can hardly have been greater. Lord Brooke had been at the forefront of aristocratic opposition to Charles I during the 1630s. He emerged as one of the Long Parliament’s popular war leaders during the opening year of war. On St Chad’s day on 2 March 1643, at the siege of Lichfield Cathedral Close, Brooke was killed at the door of this house on Dam Street. He was shot through the eye from extreme range by a musket fired from the cathedral tower 177 yards away. He was killed instantly and buried around a month later in the vault of his predecessor and cousin, the 1st Lord Brooke in the chapter house of St Mary’s Church, Warwick. Brooke’s death was a hammer blow to the parliamentarian cause. The royalist historian, Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon later reflected how Brooke’s death ‘was exceedingly lamented by that party, which had scarce a more absolute confidence in any man than in him.’ The suddenness of Brooke’s death left his family and household unprepared and in shock. Brooke’s widow, Katherine, was aged only twenty-four, pregnant with their fifth son, Fulke, and had four other infant sons to look after, all aged under six years. The Long Parliament exalted Brooke as a Godly martyr for their cause and were determined that their treatment of his bereaved widow, herself the daughter of the late Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford, should be seen to be generous and exemplary. Among the many elegies to Lord Brooke, one was personally addressed to Katherine by John Wallis, the cryptographer, and chaplain to another famous godly military widow, Mary, Lady Vere. Wallis’s condolences were particularly fulsome, exhorting that Katherine’s personal grief was owned and shared by the kingdom: ‘We first your Losse, and then your grief bemone; (Some Ease, in Sadnesse, not to weep Alone:) Our Teares (ambitious) make their sad addresse; (We’d bear a part, that You might weep the lesse.)’ (British Library, Thomason, E93(22), John Wallis, On the Sad Losse of the Truly Honourable Robert Lord Brook: An Elegie, to his Vertuous and Noble Lady (London, 1643), frontispiece, sig. 2r.) Katherine came to understand how to play the part of the patient and stoic Godly widow, an image communicated effectively in this portrait of her in mourning attire by Theodore Russell. The painting depicts her holding a posy of flowers that include pink laurel which was to represent honour, triumph and eternal life, along with rosemary to signify remembrance. Katherine’s numerous petitions to the House of Lords conveyed a similar message. They were carefully crafted to represent Katherine in the most favourable and deserving light, prizing her patient forbearance and suffering in God’s (and Parliament’s) cause, above the pursuit of her personal interests. This was so important because widowhood brought a loss of status and endangered noble patrimonies, especially during a time of civil war. Katherine received a letter from the King dated 15 April 1644, erroneously addressed to ‘Dame Anne Brooke widdow’, demanding she surrender the custody of her son and heir, Francis, 3rd Lord Brooke, upon pain of a fine of £5,000. To prevent Francis, who was scarcely seven years old, from falling into enemy hands, Katherine petitioned Parliament for his wardship. This was granted in August 1644, despite the King’s attempts to award Francis’s lucrative wardship to his favourite, Lord Digby, who was married to Katherine’s sister. In January 1648, the House of Lords voted Katherine the sum of £5,000 for the education of Fulke, to be paid for out of the Irish lands of the Duchess of Buckingham and her husband, the Earl of Antrim. This made Katherine the most richly compensated war widow of the English Civil War. Some of this money was loaned out at interest to her brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Hesilrige, who had married Lord Brooke’s sister Dorothy Greville. This enormous sum dwarfed the £2 or £3 per annum pension that a common soldier’s widow could hope to receive. We know that the £5,000 was paid in full and almost within three years because Lady Brooke’s household accounts showing these receipts survive. While many seventeenth-century historians are very familiar with Lord Brooke, only a handful have consulted the Brooke household accounts. Robert and Katherine’s household accounts are part of the Warwick Castle Collection held in the Warwickshire County Record Office at Warwick. They were first used by Ann Hughes to assess the income and economic status of Lord Brooke for her doctoral thesis during the 1970s and then her monograph, Politics, Society and Civil War in Warwickshire, published in 1987. A first edition of these accounts covering the period of the 1640s is currently being prepared for publication with the Camden Society, edited by Stewart Beale, Andrew Hopper and Ann Hughes. The household accounts reveal much about how a Godly noble household mobilized for war, both in Warwickshire and the metropolis. They set out aspects of the functioning of Lady Brooke’s households at Warwick Castle, and her two London mansions. Confusingly, these were both called ‘Brooke House’. Situated in Holborn and Hackney, they were the places where Katherine spent most of her early widowhood during the 1640s. The household accounts include valuable evidence of Lady Brooke’s activities and social circles, including dealings with her kinfolk, peers, friends, chaplains and servants. They furnish rich information on the purchase of books, toys and clothes to divert the orphaned boys, thereby providing a valuable source for elite consumption and material culture. The Greville boys received lessons in arithmetic, French, dancing and archery, and were often sent with their maids to Hackney. Once a little older, they frequented the library at Sion College, equipped with books for sermon notes. Throughout the 1640s, and into the 1650s, Katherine enjoyed close contacts with leaders of the parliamentarian cause. She was required to maintain her brother, William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford when he was confined temporarily in Brooke House after he returned from his short-lived defection to the royalists in January 1644. It is likely Katherine attended the execution of her late husband’s old enemy, Archbishop Laud, on Tower Hill, in January 1645. Parliament awarded her Lord Digby’s London residence on Queen Street, which she rented out to Sir Thomas Fairfax, the parliamentarian commander-in-chief, during his time in the capital in 1648 and 1649. In March 1649, Katherine took her eldest son Francis to witness the trials of the royalist lords, James, 1st Duke of Hamilton, Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland and Arthur, Lord Capel. She later purchased for Francis their scaffold speeches. Later that year she visited the republican politician, Alexander Popham, in his house at Littlecote in Wiltshire. At a time when so many castles were being slighted to make them indefensible, the republican Council of State recommended a grant of £1,000 for the renovation of Warwick Castle. Parliament wanted to continue to be seen to honour Lady Brooke, even after the regicide and the abolition of the House of Lords. Ultimately, Katherine was able to accumulate a sizeable estate in her own right that removed any need for her to remarry. The household accounts are also of value to historians of military welfare. They reveal that Lady Brooke made charitable payments to the poor that included other widows and refugees fleeing from Ireland, such as ten shillings for ‘the poor Irish woman that was at Bath’. Two shillings were given to ‘divers poor maimed people by my Lady’s command that were carried in a cart.’ Katherine made substantial payments to James Cooke, the pioneering surgeon at Warwick Castle, who was also pastor of a congregational meeting in the town. After 1643, the accounts concluded each year on 2 March, showing how the household’s lives were still shaped and ordered by civil-war bereavement and the anniversary of Lord Brooke’s untimely death. Ultimately, the conduct and deportment expected of the widows of parliamentarian commanders, and the ways in which they procured favourable responses from authority reflected their active participation within Parliament’s war effort. They appreciated how their condition and that of their orphaned children reflected upon Parliament’s honour. In turn, Parliament owned them as participants in its cause in a way that was different from the royalists whose focus on passive loyalty to one’s sovereign was less manifestly reciprocal in nature. The widows of Parliament’s commanders proved themselves adept at deploying religious and political language to elicit support. They stressed their families’ sufferings, thereby affirming their own loyalty and activism alongside that of their husbands. They combined the supplicant’s customary language of humility and dependence with a stoic forbearance that accorded with godly notions of honour, public duty, sacrifice and service. The potency of this self-fashioning is evident in the response it provoked from the enemy. Royalist pamphleteers lamented a threat to the gender order, depicting the wives and widows of parliamentarian commanders as domineering, adulterous and conspiratorial, a set of hypocritical puritans on the make, who were worryingly unnatural and unwomanly in their political assertiveness. Further Reading Stewart Beale, Andrew Hopper and Ann Hughes (eds), The Household Accounts of Robert and Katherine Greville, Lord and Lady Brooke of Warwick, 1640–1649 (Camden Society, forthcoming). Andrew Hopper, ‘ “To condole with me on the Commonwealth’s loss”: the widows and orphans of Parliament’s military commanders’, in David J. Appleby and Andrew Hopper (eds), Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018), pp. 192–210. Ann Hughes, Gender and the English Revolution (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012). Ann Hughes, Politics, Society and Civil War in Warwickshire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
‘And they called for their pints of beer and bottles of sherry…’: veterans and war widows as brewers and alehouse-keepers.
Beer was a staple drink for men, women and even children in early modern Europe, as it was far less likely to be contaminated than water. In our latest blog, David Appleby uses cases from the Civil War Petitions database to show how and why many impoverished military veterans, maimed soldiers and war widows brewed beer and ran alehouses, and how they fared at the hands of the county benches before and after the Restoration. No Interregnum regime sought to impose a complete prohibition on the production and consumption of alcohol, not least because beer was safer to drink than water. Sobriety featured prominently in the Puritan agenda of the 1650s known as the ‘reformation of manners’, but Puritans were not alone in detesting drunkenness and carousing. Neither were Cromwell’s major-generals the first officials to crack down on unlicenced or disorderly alehouses: Assize judges had already conducted two energetic campaigns to close unlicenced establishments and reduce the number of licenced ones during the period of Charles I’s personal rule, in 1630-1 and 1637. The various statutes and proclamations issued in the decades before the Civil Wars had caused considerable confusion as to who had oversight of alehouses, inns, and taverns, and a blurring of distinctions between these various establishments. Inns provided accommodation and victuals as well as drink, but increasingly alehouses were also expected to provide at least some accommodation in order to qualify for a licence. James I had attempted to increase Crown revenue by first franchising the right to license inns, and then alehouses. The disputes and tensions which subsequently arose in Charles I’s reign between these national franchises, Assize judges, county justices, manor courts and parish officers resulted in huge variations in the policing of alehouses, and erratic responses to the crackdowns periodically ordered by higher authority. Attitudes to alehouses were ambivalent. Since Tudor times they had been ‘regarded by many in authority as a leading cause of poverty – places where working people frittered away their earnings on drink and gambling’ [Briggs et al (1996), 48]. There is no doubt that many alehouses were hives of disorder, prostitution, crime, and even sedition. Ever since Edward VI’s reign, those seeking a licence to run an alehouse had been required to deposit the sizeable sum of £10, with two supporters advancing an extra £5 each, as surety for keeping good order in and around their premises. Some county benches demanded even larger sums [King (1980), 41-2]. At the same time, it was widely recognised that the production and consumption of beer and ale were vital to the health of the local economy; an important consideration for communities struggling to recover from the Civil Wars. Fines levied on disorderly alehouses went towards poor relief; and many individuals who might otherwise have been a burden on the parish were able to subsist by keeping an alehouse. Inevitably, a large proportion of these people were too poor to afford the £10 surety and so operated without a licence. Many other poor people scratched out a living by illegally brewing in their homes to supply neighbours and local establishments. By contrast, maltsters tended to be relatively well off, as malting required significantly more capital than brewing or alehouse keeping (not least for the bulk purchase of grain), but their industry still provided gainful employment for the local poor. Maimed soldiers and war widows were among the poorest members of local society. The vast majority of those awarded pensions barely received enough to subsist, and those denied pensions endured an even bleaker existence. As discussed in an earlier blog, many other veterans and widows attempted to shift for themselves rather than apply for charity. Examples in the Civil War Petitions database include John Hall, who petitioned to be allowed to work as a cobbler in Leicester, despite having lost the use of his right hand. Given that brewing and alehouse-keeping involved less physical exertion than many other occupations, it is unsurprising that some veterans and war widows should have chosen to supplement their meagre income in this way. Some veterans petitioned for alehouse licences rather than pensions. William Parker of Beaulieu requested an alehouse licence from Hampshire justices in 1655, citing the wounds he had received in Parliament’s service. In May that same year, the parishioners of West Rudham in Norfolk stressed that Thomas Holman had been so badly afflicted by his military service that he was ‘very unable to work as other poor men to get his living’. They asked that Holman therefore be permitted to ‘draw beer as he has formerly done there five or six years.’ Robert Hansen informed the Lancashire bench in 1656 that he had lost his original livelihood during the four years he had served the Commonwealth in Scotland. He pleaded that ‘having a wife and child to maintain and nothing wherewith to maintain our livelihood withal, I humbly desire your licence to sell ale or beer in Rochdale’. The following year Alice Tarbock, a war widow, also petitioned the Lancashire bench, suggesting that if the justices chose not to give her a pension, they might at least grant her a licence to brew or sell ale in Ditton. Either outcome would allow her to support her three children, for ‘otherwise’, Alice warned, ‘she must be forced to put them upon the parish’. For whatever reason – very possibly because they had been particularly assiduous in closing alehouses during the 1650s – the Lancashire justices took a third course, ordering the churchwardens and overseers of the poor for the parish of Preston to make suitable provision for the Tarbock family. The vague wording of the various Ordinances and Acts concerning maimed soldiers and widows left justices considerable discretion in allowing pensioners to supplement their pension with paid employment. Many magistrates appear to have disapproved of the practice. On receiving reports from informers in 1652 that some of their pensioners had jobs on the side, the Staffordshire bench declared that individuals healthy enough to work were taking money from more needy and deserving cases [Staffordshire Record Office, Q/SO/5, fols. 417, 463]. When Gloucester’s Midsummer Quarter Sessions convened in 1657, justices proposed to raise Samuell Pitt’s pension from £3 to £4 per annum but stipulated that the veteran was ‘not to receive any payment until he has stopped selling ale and beer’. The same attitude was evident after the Restoration: Northamptonshire officials investigating Thomas Roodey’s application for a pension in 1668 concluded that the royalist veteran was a fit candidate for financial relief, ‘except his keeping an alehouse’. However, the officials were satisfied that ‘he will lay aside that calling rather than lose his pension.’ A constant refrain running through all the licensing laws was that persons applying for alehouse licences should be well disposed to the State, and morally fit to run a drinking establishment. After 1649, with licensing powers bestowed unambiguously on county justices, such attributes were even more important to a Commonwealth regime obsessed with the related evils of drunkenness, disorder, and sedition. Consequently, it is interesting to see military service offered as evidence of good character, particularly during the rule of Cromwell’s major-generals. Thomas Crocker of St James, Somerset, was even more explicit than William Parker and Robert Hansen in presenting himself as ‘ever faithful and serviceable unto the State’. Crocker declared that his wounds had left him ‘totally maimed and consequently forever disenabled to get maintenance for himself, his wife and three children.’ The parliamentarian veteran explained that because ‘he could not labour and had no other way to get maintenance, he formerly used to sell beer in his dwelling house.’ Nevertheless, although pointing out that he had not hitherto been prosecuted for any disorder in all the time he had run his unofficial establishment, ‘your petitioner (as he understands) is now indicted for the same, whereby he is likely to be undone unless your Worships be now pleased to extend the eye of pity and compassion towards him.’ Frustratingly, there is no record to indicate how the Somerset bench responded to Crocker’s petition. Sometimes it only required one accuser to prevent the renewal of a licence. Lieutenant Henry Fielding had died during the First Civil War, leaving his wife Grace Fielden (or Fielding) with very little means to sustain their large family. Consequently, for her ‘better livelihood and subsistence’, Grace had subsequently kept an alehouse with the blessing of her neighbours (her petition was endorsed by no less than 24 parishioners). This harmonious state of affairs continued until 1658/9, when one individual ‘did lay such foul aspersions upon me, especially at the last Privy Sessions held for the division of Blackburn hundred, so as by no means I could procure [a] licence to keep ale as formerly I had’. Grace’s obvious indignation at these ‘foul aspersions’ suggests that her detractor may have accused her of running a brothel (many alehouses were closed for allowing prostitution on the premises). She presented herself before the Lancashire bench in 1659 to clear her ‘good name and fame’. Significantly, in her effort to regain her reputation and be considered a fit and proper licensee Grace laid great stress on her status as a war widow, and the fact that some of her sons were now soldiers in Parliament’s service. The question of allegiance figures prominently in the respective cases of Thomas Holte and Mary Allin, but for very different reasons. Thomas Holte of Liversedge in the West Riding of Yorkshire had plainly served as a parliamentarian soldier, as he was granted a pension in July 1646. He appears to have been given considerable latitude to supplement his income, for he is described as a butcher and alehouse keeper in a later document in 1648. However, this document also records that on 13 July 1647 he had called for a health to be drunk to the confusion of Parliament ‘and all that took their part’, and had threatened to kill a customer, calling him ‘Roundhead Reyner’. West Riding justices stripped Holte of his pension and his alehouse licence. Curiously, he is once again recorded as a pensioner after the Restoration, despite the fact that the 1662 Act specifically precluded those who had been in arms against Charles I or his son. Holte’s case contrasts with that of Mary Allin, a widow from Pilton, Northamptonshire, who had completely the opposite experience after the Restoration when her brewing licence was revoked by the county bench in 1667. The certificate submitted by her supportive neighbours (including Pilton’s overseer of the poor, the petty constable, and a churchwarden) laid great stress on the fact that her husband had served as a surgeon in the royalist army, and that the loss of the veteran’s pension following his death had left the Allin family in poverty. Intriguingly, the certificate also inadvertently disclosed that the couple had been allowed to brew beer and run a licenced victualling house throughout the Interregnum, despite the husband’s royalist background. This was almost certainly because they had ‘always carried and demeaned themselves civilly, orderly and handsomely towards all people, and have done much good to diverse lame and distressed people by their very good skill in surgery.’ Like Grace Fielden, Mary Allin had been accused by a disgruntled individual. Her neighbours described the allegations as ‘utterly false and untrue and maliciously done’. The loss of the alehouse licence had been ‘to the great hinderance and amazement of the poor widow and her great family of small children, they not imagining any cause wherefore.’ Again, despite the fact that Mary Allin’s case was considered at the Epiphany Sessions of 1667/8 and again at the Easter Sessions of 1668, there is no indication as to whether Northamptonshire justices restored her licence. This blog shows yet again how the huge collection of records held in the Civil War Petitions database has the potential to shed light on a wide range of societal and political issues beyond military welfare and war relief. Inevitably, the blog must end with many questions: for example, how many other maimed soldiers, veterans and war widows brewed beer illegally or kept unlicenced alehouses, but managed to avoid official scrutiny? Did county benches turn a blind eye to such activities in order to mitigate the burden of war relief in the localities? If so, were Restoration benches more tolerant than those which functioned during the Interregnum? Hopefully, someone reading this blog will be enthused to delve further into the archives in search of answers. Further Reading John Briggs, Christopher Harrison, Angus McInnes and David Vincent, Crime and Punishment in England: An Introductory History (London, 1996). Mark Hailwood, Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England (Woodbridge, 2014). Judith Hunter, ‘English inns, taverns, alehouses and brandy shops: the legislative framework, 1495-1797’, in Beat A. Kümin and B. Ann Tlusty (eds), The World of the Tavern: Public Houses in Early Modern Europe (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 65-82. W. J. King, ‘Regulation of alehouses in Stuart Lancashire: an example of discretionary administration of the law’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire, 129 (1980 for 1979), pp. 31-46. Stephen K. Roberts, ‘Alehouses, brewing and government under the early Stuarts’, Southern History, 2 (1980), pp. 45-71. Keith Wrightson, ‘Alehouses, order and reformation in rural England, 1590-1660’, in E. Yeo and S. Yeo (eds), Popular Culture and Class Conflict, 1590-1914: Explorations in the History of Labour and Leisure (Brighton: 1981), pp. 1-27.
The War Wounds of Sir Thomas Fairfax
Looking back on his military service during the Civil Wars, Thomas 3rd Lord Fairfax penned his Short Memorials during the 1660s. The manuscript originals survive among the Fairfax Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. Many years after his death, they were edited and published in defence of his reputation by his cousin Brian. Together with evidence from wartime newsbooks and pamphlets, they provide significant detail about the wounds that Fairfax and many of his close comrades received during their wartime service in the northern campaigns of 1642–45. In this blog, Andrew Hopper chronicles Fairfax’s many wounds, ailments and narrow escapes, suggesting something of their political and cultural significance. Thanks to the kindness of Tom Fairfax, cousin of Nicholas, the current Lord Fairfax, the National Civil War Centre are able to display the wheelchair of the parliamentarian commander-in-chief as one of their star exhibits. Of a striking size and formidable in appearance, it was the showpiece of the Centre’s ‘Battle-Scarred’ exhibition in 2016–2019. It serves as a very physical reminder that civil-war commanders were expected to lead from the front and expose themselves to danger in order to inspire their troops. During the 1660s, despite being scarcely fifty, Fairfax resorted to this wheelchair because of ill-health and the many war wounds that he carried with him. In his Short Memorials, Fairfax was meticulous in acknowledging the hand of God’s providence in explaining his unlikely survival of so many military engagements. His good fortune is magnified when it is considered the dangers he faced and how many times he was wounded. On top of this, Fairfax was quite a sickly man. The fevers he endured during his brief military education in the Low Countries in 1629 frequently recurred, including soon after his marriage to Anne Vere in 1637. Fearing another recurrence of his son’s ill health, Ferdinando, 2nd Lord Fairfax, withheld permission for him to serve against the Irish rebels, despite Sir Thomas’s pleading that the ‘miserable condition our neighbours of Ireland are in doth much affect me’ (Bodleian MS Fairfax 32, fo. 43). On 4 January 1642, Sir Thomas’s mother-in-law, Mary, Lady Vere, congratulated Ferdinando on the wisdom of this decision: ‘I think you did exceeding well to stay him from Ireland. He owes himself more here, if there should be occasion: & this winter is a most extreme cold one: he is to me as my own’ (Bodleian MS Fairfax 32, fo. 19). Once hostilities commenced, it did not take long for Fairfax to receive his first wound. The London press reported him wounded in the head in only his second engagement, defending his quarters at Wetherby from a surprise attack by horse and dragoons under Sir Thomas Glemham on 25 November 1642 (BL, Thomason E.128, Speciall Passages, no. 16, 22–29 November 1642, pp. 135–6). Caught unawares and not fully dressed, Fairfax recalled that he led his court of guard consisting of 2 sergeants and 2 pikemen to fight off a charge by Sir Thomas Glemham and 6 or 7 of his officers. The royalist Sir Henry Slingsby recorded ‘every one had his shot at him, he only making out at them with his sword’. If their aim had been better, Fairfax’s military career would have been over before it had scarcely begun. These 4 foot soldiers had likely saved his life, for as Slingsby pointed out, Fairfax was driven back ‘under the guard of his pikes’ (Daniel Parsons, ed., The Diary of Sir Henry Slingsby of Scriven, 1836, p. 83). An insertion in the margin by his cousin, Brian Fairfax, remarked that one of these soldiers ‘had a pension for his life till 1670’ (Short Memorials, 1699, p. 6). If this pension had been granted by the West Riding quarter sessions, it would have been illegal during the 1660s and the recipient would have risked imprisonment by collecting it. This raises the intriguing possibility that if the pension was paid after 1660, it might have been done so privately, in gratitude by Fairfax himself. The royalists only withdrew from Wetherby when another of Fairfax’s soldiers accidentally dropped a match into a barrel of gunpowder, causing them to believe (wrongly), that the parliamentarians had deployed artillery (Bodleian MS Fairfax 36, fo. 5). On 13 December 1642, Fairfax had another lucky escape when his horse collapsed, having been shot under him during a cavalry raid on royalist quarters at Sherburn-in-Elmet (Bodleian MS Fairfax 36, fo. 6; BL, Thomason E.83, A True Relation of the Fight at Sherburn in the County of Yorke, 16 December 1642, pp. 1–2). On 30 March 1643, Fairfax was fortunate again to escape into Leeds after his defeat on Seacroft Moor by Sir George Goring, during which Fairfax’s cornet was captured and the autobiographer, John Hodgson, then an ensign was also wounded, presumably defending his colours. Two months later, during his successful assault on Wakefield on 20 May, Fairfax was again almost captured when he became temporarily separated from his men riding through the streets. Fairfax received his second wound on 2 July 1643 during a sharp cavalry engagement in Selby market place, whilst protecting his father’s army’s retreat from Leeds to Hull. He later recalled: ‘I received a shot in the wrist of my arm, which made the bridle fall out of my hand, which being among the nerves and veins, suddenly let out such a quantity of blood, that I was ready to fall from my horse.’ He seized the reins with his sword hand and got clear of the melee, which allowed his soldiers to lay him down on the ground ‘almost senseless’ until ‘my surgeon came seasonably & bound up my wound, & so stopped the bleeding’. After only a quarter of an hour’s rest, he mounted up, and remained in the saddle for another 20 hours until he arrived in Hull ‘having lost all even to my shirt, for, my clothes were made unfit to wear with rends & blood which was upon them’ (Bodleian MS Fairfax 36, fos. 9–10). If he had been wearing a steel bridle-arm to protect his rein hand, as was customary for civil-war cavalry, this might have carried further metal into the wound. A bridle-arm from the Fairfax collection survives on display in the National Civil War Centre, again on loan thanks to the kindness of Tom Fairfax, which suggests that the wound healed well enough not to inhibit him from wearing this armour during future engagements. His third wound came a year later, ‘a cutt in my cheeke’, during his first cavalry charge at Marston Moor on 2 July 1644. The royalist polemicist, John Crouch later jibed that Fairfax was by this wound ‘marked for a rogue’, intending to undermine his gentility by comparing him to plebeian felons whose faces could be judicially maimed (BL, Thomason E.560, A Tragi-Comedy, called New-market-fayre, 1649, p. 5). Many of Fairfax’s cavalry officers were killed early in the battle by royalist musketry. Fairfax’s Short Memorials reflected: ‘The captain of my own troop was shot in the arm. My cornet had both his hands cut [likely defending the colours], that rendered him ever after unserviceable. Captain Micklethwaite, an honest, stout man was slain and scarce any officer which was in this charge, which did not receive a hurt. Major Fairfax, who was major to [John Lambert] had at least 30 wounds whereof he died after he was abroad again and good hopes of his recovery.’ But even more saddening than Major Fairfax’s short-lived revival was the loss of Sir Thomas’s younger brother, Colonel Charles Fairfax ‘who, being deserted by his men, was sore wounded, of which in 3 or 4 days he died.’ Fairfax acknowledged God’s goodness to him that he himself had come away comparatively unscathed, despite being unhorsed, struck to the ground, and again separated from his men. Once again, his horse had been shot from under him (Bodleian MS Fairfax 36, fo. 13; BL, Thomason, E.2, A More Exact Relation of the Late Battell neer York, 17 July, 1644, p. 7). The following month, Fairfax received his fourth and most dangerous wound while directing the besiegers of Helmsley Castle. At considerable range, Fairfax ‘received a dangerous shot in my shoulder and was brought back to York’, leaving ‘all, for some time being doubtful of my recovery’. This required 3 months to convalesce and may possibly have deterred him from wearing a back and breast plate thereafter (Bodleian MS Fairfax 36, fo. 13; BL Thomason E.254, Perfect Occurrences of Parliament, no. 4, 30 August–6 September 1644, sig. D2r). As Thomas lay recovering, his cousin Sir William Fairfax was mortally wounded in the Battle of Montgomery on 18 September 1644. One newsbook claimed that by refusing to treat, he was wounded 12 or 13 times. He died 16 hours later, his last words a request for Sir William Brereton to look after his widow and children (BL Thomason, E.10, The Kingdom’s Weekly Intelligencer, no. 73, 17–24 September 1644, p. 588–9; BL Thomason, E.10, The Weekly Account, no. 56, 18–24 September 1644, p. 448; BL Thomason, E.10, The London Post, no. 5, 24 September 1644, p. 8). Despite having just lost his son second son at Marston Moor and with his eldest son lying dangerously wounded, Ferdinando greeted the news of the ‘mortal wounds of my dear nephew’ with Godly stoicism: ‘blessed be God, the victory obtained over our enemies doth abate my sorrow for any particular friends’ (TNA, State Papers 16/503, fos. 260–1). No sooner had Sir Thomas recovered, he was directing operations at the siege of Pontefract Castle in January 1645. There, he ‘was lately in great danger of being shot by a cannon bullet from the castle, which came between him and Colonel Forbes; the waft of it felled Sir Thomas to the ground, and spoiled one side of the Colonel’s face and eyes’. Forbes survived this terrible injury and was nicknamed ‘Blowface’ thereafter (BL, Thomason E.24, Mercurius Civicus, 9–16 January, 1645, p. 790). After he travelled southward to assume command of the New Model Army, Fairfax continued to place himself in the forefront of the fighting. He was fortunate at Naseby, where he ‘received not the least wound; though he engaged bareheaded’ (BL, Thomason, E.288, A More Particular and Exact Relation of the Victory obtained by the Parliaments Forces under the Command of Sir Thomas Fairfax, 19 June, 1645, p. 2). However the wounds that he sustained in the northern campaigns continued to trouble him, reminding us that the ‘recovery’ of maimed soldiers from their wounds was rarely total. He wrote to his father from Chard on 8 October 1645: ‘I am exceedingly troubled with rheumatism and a benumbing coldness in my head, legs and arms, especially on that side I had my hurts. It hath pleased the Lord to help me through much extremities, and I trust He will lay no more on me than He will enable me to bear.’ Fairfax was indeed conscious that God had protected him through many dangers: ‘The mercies I have received ought to stop all complaints in His service’ (Bell, Fairfax Correspondence, vol. 1, p. 251). By 1646 Fairfax had developed a kidney stone. Like many soldiers sent there from London’s military hospitals, in August 1646 Fairfax took the waters at Bath to try to ease his condition. He visited again in July 1659 (BL, Additional MS 10114, fo. 49; BL, Additional MS 71448 fos. 48, 50). He enjoyed another narrow escape at the Battle of Torrington on 16 February 1646, when he acknowledged to his father ‘God’s great mercy to me’ after 80 barrels of powder blew up inside a church showering down ‘great webs of lead’ which ‘fell thickest’ onto the ground around him, killing one of his lifeguard’s horses (Bell ed., Fairfax Correspondence, vol. 1, p. 285). During the political entanglements that followed the First Civil War, Fairfax was often accused by his Army’s enemies at Westminster of pretending to be sick at convenient moments. In April 1647, in the midst of his army’s protests over pay and indemnity, he sought medical treatment in London. That autumn, illness prevented him from chairing most of the Putney Debates, until towards their end on 5 November 1647. His chaplain, Joshua Sprigge remarked that Fairfax continued to suffer ‘some infirmities contracted by former wounds’ (Anglia Rediviva, 1647, p. 42), but these seemed not to trouble him during battle. On 1 June 1648, enduring great pain from gout, Fairfax led his soldiers in a furious assault on Maidstone. He was ill again during Pride’s Purge in December 1648, and unable to meet MPs imprisoned by his Army. On top of his illnesses and recurring pain from his wounds, it is likely that from 1649 Fairfax was also troubled with bouts of depression and melancholy over his failure to prevent the King’s execution. The accounts of Fairfax’s army headquarters from December 1646 show him dispensing generous gratuities to maimed soldiers, war widows and refugees from Ireland, some of whom importuned repeatedly for relief. (Ethel Kitson and E. Kitson Clark, ‘Some civil war accounts’, in Miscellanea, Thoresby Society, 11, 1904, pp. 137–235). Perhaps Fairfax was able to empathise in these cases because of his own wounds and bereavements. He considered wounds in service to a cause conferred honour on their bearers and were markers of God’s favour. This could be turned to political purposes. Fairfax commanded widespread respect among parliamentarians, not just because of his military successes, but because his sacrifices in the cause were so physically obvious. In the Protectorate Parliament on 3 February 1659, Sir Arthur Hesilrige proclaimed that the New Model was ‘the best army that ever was in the world’ and used the physical example of Fairfax’s wounds to remind MPs to take good care of it: ‘This noble Lord that sits by me, Lord Fairfax; I bless God that he, having received so many wounds, now sits by my right hand’ (J.T. Rutt, ed., The Diary of Thomas Burton, Esq., London, 1828, vol. 3, p. 56). In December 1659, Fairfax led an uprising in favour of General Monck that seized York, but his kidney stones and gout now forced him to direct proceedings from his coach rather than on horseback. All considered, it is little wonder that Fairfax was resorting to this wheelchair during his final years. His cousin Brian remembered him sitting in it ‘like an old Roman, his manly countenance striking awe and reverence into all that beheld him’ (BL, Egerton MS 2,146 fo. 38). The National Civil War Centre would like once again to thank the Fairfax family for having loaned the wheelchair (along with other important artefacts owned by the general), so that it can be kept for public view as a reminder of the terrible costs of war to the human body. It also bears witness to the extraordinary story of Fairfax’s ultimate survival through so many dangers in this harrowing conflict. Increasingly confined to it, he spent his final years reading, writing and making notes from sermons. He died, aged just 59, of a fever in his home at Nun Appleton, 9 miles southwest of York, on 11 November 1671. During the last morning of his life he called for his Bible. As his eyes grew dim he recited the forty-second psalm (BL Egerton MS 2146, fo. 38), which includes the penultimate verse: 'As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach mee: while they say dayly unto me, where is thy God?' (Authorised Version, 1611). Fairfax's will directed his burial be conducted ‘in such a manner as may be convenient and decent rather than pompous’. It also directed that John Denonley and his wife Elizabeth enjoy their farm rent-free for life, on account of John ‘having received a maim in my service disabling him to earn his living’ (Markham, A Life of the Great Lord Fairfax, p. 445). Further Reading Andrew Hopper and Philip Major (eds), England’s Fortress: New Perspectives on Thomas, 3rd Lord Fairfax (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014). Andrew Hopper, ‘Black Tom’: Sir Thomas Fairfax and the English Revolution (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007). John Wilson, Fairfax: A Life of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, Captain-General of all the Parliament’s forces in the English Civil War, Creator and Commander of the New Model Army (New York, 1985). Mildred Ann Gibb, The Lord General: A Life of Thomas Fairfax (London, 1938). Clements R. Markham, A Life of the Great Lord Fairfax (London, 1870). Robert Bell (ed.), The Fairfax Correspondence: Memorials of the Civil War, 2 vols (London, 1849). Brian Fairfax (ed.), Short Memorials of Thomas Lord Fairfax (London, 1699).
They also served
The Civil War Petitions project team frequently agonises over whether to include or reject individuals (or their relations) who were involved in the conflict but not technically soldiers. This is rather redolent of the conundrum faced by Winston Churchill’s government in 1944, when deciding whether or not civilians and home-based service personnel should be awarded the 1939-43 Campaign Star (later designated the 1939-45 Star). David Appleby shows in this blog that soldiers were certainly not the only ones killed or wounded during the Wars in the Three Kingdoms. Most of the individuals named below have not made it into our database for one reason or another, but they are at least commemorated in this blog. As Eduard Wagner wrote in European Weapons and Warfare, ‘provisions, ammunition and other military supplies were indispensable to any army’. A large army could have as many as 200 supply wagons, stretching for several miles along the road. Care had to be taken in seeking out the best routes for the wagon train, and protecting it from the enemy. It was vital to have a competent wagon-master-general, as well as drivers, smiths, carpenters and wheelwrights. Wagner gives the impression that drivers were hired during the European wars, but documents unearthed by our project team show that waggoneers were very often conscripted, and their wagons and teams summarily requisitioned. John Griffythes was impressed in Pattingham, Staffordshire, to serve as a driver during the Bishops’ Wars. Sometime during the campaign, he was kicked by a cavalry trooper’s horse, and had to be invalided home. Surgeons pronounced Griffythes’ shattered leg to be incurable, and being unfit for work he became dependent on parish charity. Pattingham’s leading parishioners helped him petition the county Justices in April 1642. The parishioners optimistically claimed that he was a maimed soldier, despite the fact that he was clearly a non-combatant. The Justices generously agreed to treat him as such, ordering an immediate gratuity of £5, and a county pension as soon as there was a vacancy in the pensioner list. Pattingham submitted a further petition to the Epiphany Sessions in January 1643, complaining that Griffythes had not yet received his promised gratuity, much less a pension. The Bench agreed that the ‘the poor man’ should be paid his arrears, plus an extra £3 for the year to come. However, a year later Griffythes petitioned to complain that he had still not received any money. This time the Justices pleaded poverty: Staffordshire’s economy was now being ravaged by the First Civil War, and the county’s Treasurers for Maimed Soldiers had ‘no more moneys in their receipts than to pay the pensions that are already being paid.’ There is no evidence that Griffythes was ever paid. [Staffordshire Record Office, Q/SR/250, fol. 11; /254, fols. 19r, 19v, 20r-23, 21; Q/SO/5, fols. 95, 117, 146, 147.] Whereas John Griffythes was variously described as a servant and a tenant farmer, George Rolfe of Leyton, Essex (who featured in an earlier blog) ran a business as a carrier. In 1643, Rolfe’s wagon and horses were requisitioned for the Earl of Essex’s supply train, as the parliamentarian general made preparations to relieve Gloucester. Rolfe’s team was used to carry ammunition, with all the dangers that entailed. The fact that the wagon was broken and the horses killed at the first battle of Newbury suggests that they were lost in an explosion [Essex Record Office, Q/SO1, fols. 163, 168]. An engineer’s job similarly included handling hazardous materials. During many civil-war sieges they were called upon to construct explosive devices such as ‘pagans’ and ‘petards’, placing the latter against the walls and gates of enemy strongholds. On the other side of those walls, engineers had designed formidable fortifications, even for small garrisons, incorporating all the deadly innovations of the early modern Military Revolution. Experienced military engineers were therefore worth their weight in gold, both in an offensive and defensive capacity. John Hooper, Colonel Hutchinson’s chief engineer at Nottingham (who appears in our database as a signatory to several payments to Nottinghamshire war widows), was described by Lucy Hutchinson as ‘an ingenious fellow’. The case of Leonard Crast shows that engineers ran the same risks as regular soldiers during sieges. In April 1645 Crast petitioned the Hertfordshire parliamentary county committee for money to fund his return to London, on the grounds that he been wounded in the head in Parliament’s service [TNA SP28/232, fol. 720]. Sir John Gell and the Derbyshire parliamentary county committee certainly considered that their engineer, Edward Lions, should be treated like a soldier, as in August 1645 they agreed to pay him thereafter as if he were ‘a gentleman of the pike’ [TNA SP28/226, fols. 195, 217]. Lions had almost certainly supervised Gell’s assault pioneers as they dug trenches and mines under the foundations of Wingfield Manor during the parliamentarian siege of the place in August 1644. In the course of these excavations at least one of the conscripted pioneers – Anthony Hoades of Wirksworth – was ‘unhappily shot to death’ by the royalist defenders. However, it would be another three years before the Derbyshire committee awarded his widow a gratuity of £2, pending consideration of her claim for a war widow’s pension [TNA SP28/226, fols. 244, 500]. The petition of Henry Colier of Allestree, Derbyshire, shows that even duties behind the lines entailed a certain amount of hazard. Colier was a saltpetreman, who collected and processed the saltpetre in order to help supply the parliamentarian garrison of Stafford with gunpowder. Years later, in 1652, Colier claimed that the ‘great and hot labour’ involved in the process had caused his foot to become so badly infected that he had lost his leg, leaving him unable to provide for his wife and three children. The Civil War Petitions database contains details of many surgeons and physicians who worked to cure maimed soldiers during the conflict. The rules of war considered the persons of medical practitioners to be inviolate, as they habitually treated the wounded of both sides regardless of their own affiliation. We do not as yet have any conclusive evidence that any were wounded in combat, although it is noteworthy that William Edwards of Wrexham submitted a certificate to accompany his petition, just as a maimed soldier would. Pensions were certainly awarded to surgeons such as Peter Wray from Lewes, who had served in a parliamentarian regiment; and, after the Restoration, to John Corden of Herefordshire, who had served in a royalist one. Apart from the full-time nurses employed in Parliament’s military hospitals in London, many other women volunteered (or were coerced) to nurse sick and wounded soldiers. Very often these were poor widowed women, as parish officials always preferred to find paupers employment rather than pay poor relief. One widow who appears several times in the database is Rose Oldershaw of Nottingham, who over two years nursed Timothy Holt back to health. The cost of looking after wounded men involved significant time and money, as Ann Nixon intimated in a petition to the Nottinghamshire committee in 1646. If the patient was sick rather than wounded, infection was an obvious risk, as deadly diseases were prevalent in all armies. The smallpox epidemic which ravaged the New Model over the winter of 1645/6 is reflected in numerous documents submitted to county officials in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. An entry for Thomas Lucy of Datchworth, Hertfordshire, not only shows that the smallpox was brought into civilians’ houses, but also that it was often lethal [TNA SP28/232, fol. 714]. Smallpox afflicted the New Model again in 1651, as units passed through Essex, leaving sick soldiers in the care of the local community [Essex Record Office, Q/SBa2/78]. Given the prevalence of death in both military and civilian communities at this time, clergymen had a vital role to play. Those who served as regimental chaplains experienced all the privations of soldiering, and many were unable to last for even one campaign. William Dolman, chaplain to Colonel Alexander Popham, features in the Civil War Petitions database, and hopefully more will be found. Unlike surgeons, clergymen were often in considerable danger from those enraged by their religious views: Dr Michael Hudson, a notorious royalist cleric, met a grisly end, as did Hugh Peter, the equally notorious parliamentarian army chaplain. Some clergymen took an active part in the fighting, such as Samuel Kem, who served as a parliamentarian officer, and preached with pistols in the pulpit. Laurence Palmer, the rector of Gedling in Nottinghamshire, not only raised a troop of horse for Parliament but led it into battle. Even clergymen who did not carry swords could still die on them: Richard Benskin, rector of Wanlip, was killed by parliamentarian troops during the storming of Shelford in 1645. Catholic priests were killed during (or more likely after) the taking of Drogheda and Wexford. Clergymen were often engaged in espionage work, a shadowy and largely thankless occupation. Then as now, spies were often tortured and executed if caught, and they were rarely acclaimed by their own side even if successful. Stewart Beale’s blog on Katherine de Luke has already told the story of a rare petition from a civil-war spy. More normally, we are left with curt notes of summary executions, and little more. Occasionally, however, a petition will lift the veil of anonymity. William Bramley and his five siblings were orphaned when their father was executed by royalists at Wingfield Manor, presumably either before or during the siege of 1645 [TNA SP28/226, fol. 246]. Spies may have met ignominious ends, but their work arguably required more nerve and commitment than normal soldiering, and there is no doubt that ‘they also served’. Further reading John Ellis, To Walk in the Dark: Military Intelligence in the English Civil War, 1642-1646 (History Press, 2011). Eric Gruber von Arni, Justice to the Maimed Soldier: Army Hospital Care during the English Civil Wars and Interregnum (Ashgate, 2001). Anne Laurence, Parliamentary Army Chaplains 1642-51 (Royal Historical Society, 1990). W. G. Ross, Military Engineering during the Great Civil War (reprint, Ken Trotman, 1984). Eduard Wagner, European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648 (reprint, Winged Hussar Publishing, 2014).
The personal cost of war: injuries from firearms and their treatment during the Civil Wars
This is the final instalment in our trilogy of blogs on medical care written for us by Prof. Stephen M. Rutherford of the University of Cardiff. It combines the themes from the first blog examining the physical impact of gunshot wounds with the themes from the second blog examining surgical effectiveness and survivability, to uncover how surgeons during the Civil Wars treated wounds from firearms during the Civil Wars... In his treatise on gunshot wounds published in 1628, John Woodall remarked that ‘No wound of Gun-shott can be said to be a simple’, a maxim that was eloquently reinforced by the experiences of soldiers in the British Civil Wars nearly two decades later. A substantial number of petitions in this project refer to wounds from firearms (muskets, pistols and/or cannon shot), many of which were serious enough to cause long-lasting disability, such as the loss of use of a body part (or actual loss in some cases), or chronic debilitating pain in an injured part of the body. For example, the case of Michell Powell of Wrexham, Denbighshire (10 July 1660), whose petition reported that he had been ‘shott in the right arme though beinge partly cured then: yett in the p[ro]cess of tyme festered agayne & soe corrupted yt it grew to be a woolfe or gangrene … payinge the Chyrurgion for cuttinge the sayd wolfe forth & beinge still in a lamentable Condyc[i]on through deadnes of flesh: hauinge his veynes & nerues shrank & knotted through the dolor therof’. This petitioner was rendered unable to work as a result of this wound, leading to extreme hardship: ‘hindred yo[u]r poore petyc[i]oners callinge beinge a taylor & hauing 5 smal children soe yt his wyfe was constrained to wander about the towne to collect the charytie of all well disposed people’. This petition demonstrates the severity of the wound, but also its subsequent physical and financial impact. Some wounds from firearms could be very extensive. The petition of former royalist soldier, Edward Bagshaw, of Conisbrough, West Riding of Yorkshire (3 August 1668) recorded that he was shot in the side of the body, but also received ‘many wounds & cutts in the head in somuch that yo[u]r petic[i]on[e]r had nine bones taken out of his skull, And all that nourished yo[u]r petic[i]on[e]r for three weekes he rec[eiv]ed in att a hole in the side of his head …’. With many conflicts being assaults upon, or siege actions of, towns and cities, soldiers were not the only victims of injuries from firearms. An unusual petition came from Jane Merrick of Upton Bishop, Herefordshire (dated 1661 to 1662), who reported that she herself was wounded by a cannon ball: ‘yo[u]r pet[itione]r when the scotts beseiged this Citty was wounded by a Cannon shott in th legg when as she was a doeinge servis for this Cittie a makeinge vp a breach w[hi]ch was in Wigmore streete’. Jane was so badly injured that she needed to be carried to safety by ‘Mr Hugh Rodd’ (for more on Merrick, see this previous blog by Lloyd Bowen). The damage from bullets was not the only danger. The gunpowder itself was also a significant risk, as most muskets used in the Civil Wars were matchlock muskets, loaded with loose back powder, and fired using a piece of burning ‘match’ cord. Royalist surgeon Richard Wiseman recalled the case of a musketeer, whose store of gunpowder ignited while filling his bandoliers (a strap across the body from which hung small wooden bottles, each containing sufficient loose gunpowder to load and fire the musket once) with disastrous consequences: ‘A Souldier in the time of service being in the Fort-Royall at Worcester, hastily fetched his Bonnet full of Gun-powder; and whilst he was filling his Bandeliers, another Souldier carelesly bestrides it, to make a Shot at one of the Enemies which he saw lying perdue. In firing his Musket, a spark flew out of the Pan, and gave fire to the Powder underneath him, and grievously burned the Hands, Arms, Breast, Neck and Face of him that was filling his Bandeliers. And as to himself, he likewise was burned and scorched in all the upper part of his Thighs, Scrotum, the Muscles of the Abdomen, and the Coats of the Testicles to the Erythroïdes, so that the Cremasters were visible. And indeed it was to be feared, that, when the Escar should cast off from his Belly, his Bowells would have tumbled out.’ The majority of wounds from gunshot, however, were likely to have been caused by the damage made by the entry of the musket ball (variously also termed the ‘bullet’ in primary sources). See the first blog of this trilogy for details of musket ball damage. Gunshot wounds were no longer novel, by the time of the Civil Wars, and had been described in published works by surgeons such as Thomas Gale (1563), William Clowes (1588), and John Woodall (1628, 1655). However, one might argue that the duration of civil-war conflict provided unprecedented numbers of this wound type in the British Isles. The longevity of the published works of two civil-war surgeons, James Cooke and Richard Wiseman, demonstrates the significance of their procedures. Wiseman’s opus, Severall Chirurgicall Treatises (1676), was reprinted in five editions up to 1745, and his work was still cited as the leading authority on gunshot wounds in Ballingall’s Outlines of Military Surgery (1844). While some treatments were effective, equally there were some wounds that were beyond help, as Wiseman recounted regarding one unfortunate patient who had been treated by another surgeon: ‘In the Wars I was called to see a poor Souldier, who had his Arm shot off near the Shoulder. The bruised and shattered Stump seemed to his Chirurgeon to be gangrened, and accordingly he drest him with Aegyptiac. as a Gangrene: from which sharp Dressings the Wound gleeted, and, by reason of the Pain, inflamed. He had roared some days through the vehemency of that Pain. When I came to him, I saw a great Trembling of the Part, and a frequent twitching upwards of the Tendons and Musculous flesh in the Stump; also the Flesh in the whole Stump was of a whitish colour, as if it had been scalded.’ The state of this wound was critical, and on this occasion, despite trying to control the deterioration of the tissue, Wiseman noted ‘but it was too late, he died howling’. This unfortunate soldier might have survived had his early treatment been different, since within the petitions shared by this project, there is evidence of similar wounds that were survived. The first blog in this series describes the physical damage caused by a musket ball. But how was this damage treated? The ball would penetrate the body causing internal damage via ‘permanent’ and ‘temporary’ cavities. However, unlike modern bullets, often there was no ‘exit wound’ from a musket shot, as the soft lead musket ball would potentially flatten or be diverted from its trajectory within the body. In this case, the surgeon would need to remove the bullet as part of the treatment. First the bullet needed to be found, a procedure best done by the surgeon inserting his finger, or a long metal probe, into the wound. The feel of metal touching metal was different to that of metal touching bone or sinew, and so a metallic bullet could be located using this method. On some occasions the outline of the embedded musket ball could be seen under the skin, in which case making a new incision in the patient was easier and safer for removal. Most commonly, the bullet was deep within the body tissues, and so needed to be removed the way it came in. Two forms of implement were used for retrieval. Firstly a ‘tirefond’ or ‘terebellum’ bullet extractor, which was a long thin implement, with a central baffle ending in a screw thread. The instrument could be inserted into the wound, and the screw-tip then drilled into the soft lead of the ball, before removal from the body. Alternatively, long forceps or pliers could be used, of which there was a wide diversity of shapes and modes of action, typically given descriptive names such as a ‘crow’s bill’, ‘crane’s bill’ and ‘lizard mouthe’ (Rutherford, 2018). A key consideration when removing the bullet was to also remove any fragments of clothing that were carried in when the bullet struck. As a musket ball was spherical, a small circle of cloth from the soldier’s clothing would potentially enter the wound. As Wiseman described, these fragments (from typically quite dirty clothing) could lead to serious consequences, including what we would now refer to as sepsis, or blood poisoning: ‘for the Bullet pierceth not any Part without carrying Rags along with it, which corrupt in the Wound … occasioning a prolonging the Cure’. Wiseman described two instances where contaminating rags caused problems for treatment. The first was the servant of a nobleman, shot by highwaymen, ‘yet was his Gun-shot more vexatious then all the rest, until I extracted the Bullet, and Rags carried in with it … I united and healed it in ten or twelve days, which I doubt would not have been cured in three months.’ Similarly, a wounded soldier, shot in the shoulder was treated by Wiseman: ‘After several unsuccessfull Applications, I made an Incision by the side of the Scapula into the Cavity, and pulled out the Rags that had been carried in by the Shot: and from that time all Accidents ceased, and the Wound cured soon after.’ Once the rags were removed, the wound could heal. Wiseman lamented that the lack of removal of rags from the wound would lead to poisoned wounds. He noted that ‘while any of the Rags remain in the Wound, it will never cure: but the extraneous bodies drawn out, there is little difficulty in the healing these Simple Wounds’. Once the wound was cleared of the bullet and any rags or contaminants, the bullet hole itself needed to be closed. This could either be done by means of a suture (a stitch), a ligature (tying off a wound using a thread or bandage), or cauterisation (burning of tissue). Cauterisation was a debatable activity, with some practitioners from the sixteenth century onwards arguing that it did more harm than good. But it is clear from published surgical treatises that reference the civil-war period, that cauterisation was still common practice. The use of an ‘actual’ cautery was most common (an iron structure which was heated in a fire), although the use of hot oil was also practiced, especially in previous decades, although Ambroise Paré of France argued against this particular practice. Cauteries had a c.12 inch long metal shaft ending in a specific shape (either a sphere, olive shape, rounded bar, or a flat disk), depending on the requirements of the wound. Cauterisation helped both seal and sterilise the open wound, but the after effects of the severe burn could potentially be as dangerous as the wound itself. Other methods for treating the wound were employed such as what is now termed ‘delayed primary closure’ (discussed in my previous blog), as well as poultices and ointments designed to encourage natural cleansing of the wound (a term referred to as ‘proper digestion’). The production of pus was seen as a good result, and indicative of wound healing. One of the most unusual of these digestives was a salve named ‘Oleum Catellorum’ (‘Oil of Puppies’). An ointment made by boiling newly-whelped puppies in lily oil, along with earthworms that had been clarified in white wine. Once boiled and strained, the liquid was mixed with terabinth (turpentine), and the resulting salve could be applied to a wound. How effective this salve was is not certain (and, ethically, is not something that we can test)! However, what is interesting is that the same recipe was reported as effective by both Ambroise Paré (who himself gained it from a colleague) in the 1500s and a century later by Richard Wiseman. These two authors regularly evidenced disdain of methodologies that they felt did not work. Gunshots might also shatter bones if the bullet struck them. The descriptions of fractures from gunshots shows that the authors of medical treatises had experience of the splintering effects of a bullet striking a bone. The remedy for this was advised to be the removal of the shattered pieces of bone, possibly leading to a resection of the limb (joining the two regions either side of the break back together), if the damage was not too severe. How successful this was is not commonly recorded, but its presence as a suggested treatment itself is telling. Wiseman described one extreme case of a soldier on a ship who, ‘had his right Arm extremely shattered about two fingers breadth, on the outside above the Elbow’. Wiseman recalled that ‘I would have cut it off instantly with a Razour (for the Bone being shattered, there needed no Saw:) but the man would not suffer me to meddle with his Arm’. Wiseman described in detail the treatment of the wound (Wiseman, pp. 427–9), which included setting the shattered arm using wetted pasteboard as a cast, ‘as it dried, stiffened, and retained its shape, preserving the Fracture in the position I left it, and that with a very slack Bandage.’ The recovery took several months, but the soldier retained his arm. If the limb could not be saved, then it would need to be amputated. This process is described in detail in Cooke’s Mellificium Chirurgie (1648). The flesh above the damaged region was cut using a sharp curved ‘dismembering’ knife, with the sharpened edge on the concave edge, so that the limb could be cut in a single movement. Cooke advised that this knife should be heated in a fire before-hand (which incidentally would have sterilised the blade). The flesh could then be pulled back, and the bone(s) severed using a sharp saw. Cooke advised that several saws should be kept to hand, in case of breakage, as speed was of the essence. Rather than cauterising blood vessels, Cooke advised that severed major vessels should be stoppered with small round buttons made of linen, and dipped in wine, then held in place by sutures or ligatures. The flesh of the stump could then be sewn shut, although the stress placed on the sutured region was possibly problematic. A better approach was to cut the flesh into pointed flaps which could be sewn against each other into a dome, but this was not adopted until later in the century. Amputation, usually undertaken while the patient was fully awake, was noted as being a last resort, but Cooke himself emphasised that ‘Dismembering is a dreadful Operation; yet necessary’. Survival of an amputation was likely to be proportionate to the prominence of the region amputated (records in later centuries note that survival was higher for removal of digits, hands/feet, or extremities of limbs, with lower survival for amputations of the thigh or upper arm). However, an extreme example of John Tinckler of Durham, a gunner at Hartlepool, who lost his sight and both his arms, and yet survived, as well as the prominence of severed limbs and hands or feet in the petitions from soldiers illustrates that it was possible to survive amputation. The impact of these wounds was not only physical, and causing long-term implications for a wounded man’s ability to support himself and family, but it also impacted the soldier by means of the cost of the surgeon’s care. Although in many cases surgeons were in the pay of regiments on both sides (Pells), local civilian surgeons would charge for their services in garrison towns or once a soldier had been discharged from service. The petition of Elizabeth Newum, Nottinghamshire (20 December 1645) described the cost of treatment of her late husband, Nathaniell, as ‘the sume of foure pounds or vpward to bee paid vnto the surgion and Pothecarie whom dayly come upon mee’. Elizabeth was being hounded for payment for her husband’s care, and reported being ‘forct to sell vp all that I have and soe I and my poore infant shall bee forced to beg’ in order to cover the cost of the treatment. Some treatments could last for many days, weeks, even months, and thus would incur considerable costs. Christopher Ellin of Black Notley, Essex, had reported in his petition to the Essex county sessions (1652) that he was shot with a musket ball during the Battle of Worcester (3 September 1651), which struck him: ‘…in one of his Armes of which wound he hath lyen almost ever since under the Chirurgeons hands in the Savoy Hospitall at London.’ Another example, Tobye Ganbran’s petition to the City and County of Gloucester (17 November 1643) records that he was ‘sorely hurte and wounded with a mvskett shott, and thereby constrainde to lye vnder the Surgeons hands to be cured (this sixe weekes) and is not it perfectlie cured, w[i]th the Charge thereof hath cost him a greate deale of money, as vnto the Surgeon xx s., besides attendance, diett, and other necessaries.’. Similarly, the petition of Peter Green (27 August 1646) to the Nottinghamshire county committee noted that ‘y[ou]r poor petic[i]oner was lately wounded in the belly by a shot from the Enemye whereof hee lay many weekes under the Chryrugeons hand to his great paine & charges’. The petition records that ‘(notwithstanding the Chyrugeon is yet unsatisfied for his great Care & wonderfull Curre)’. It is noteworthy that these petitions, each of which were proximal to the date of the wound, refer not so much to the disabling impact of the injury, but rather to the financial charge incurred from several weeks of treatment, which the soldier was expected to pay. Wounds from firearms required particular treatments, and these treatments appear to have been reasonably effective. Unfortunately, it is not possible to clearly gauge the ratio of how many soldiers died outright compared to those who died from their wounds, or as a result of treatment, versus those who survived. But there were clearly effective methods for dealing with some quite extreme injuries. The existence of petitions from maimed victims of gunshots many decades after the wound was inflicted, shows that seventeenth-century soldiers could both survive, and live with, significant injuries from firearms. Primary Sources G. Ballingall, Outlines of Military Surgery (Edinburgh: A&C Black, 1844). W. Clowes, A Prooued Practise for all Young Chirurgians, concerning burnings with Gunpowder, and woundes made with Gunshot, Sword, Halbard, Pyke, Launce, or such other (Thomas Orwyn, 1588). J. Cooke, Mellificium Chirurgie, or, The Marrow of many Good Authours (London, 1655). J. Cooke, Supplementum Chirurgiae, or the supplement to the Marrow of Chyrurgerie (London, 1655). J. Cooke, Mellificium Chirurgiae, or the Marrow of Chirurgery much enlarged (London, 1676). T. Gale, Certain Works of Chirurgery, Newly Compiled (London, 1563). A. Paré (T. Johnson, translation), The Workes of that Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey translated out of the Latine and compared with the French (London, 1634). A. Paré (W. Hammond, translation), The Method of Curing Wounds made by Gun-shot. Also by Arrowes and Darts, with their Accidents (London, 1617). R. Wiseman, Severall Chirurgical Treatises (London: Norton and Maycock, 1676). J. Woodall, The path-way to the Surgions Chest (London, 1628). J. Woodall, The Surgeons Mate or Military & Domestique Surgery (London, 1655). Secondary Works E. Gruber von Arni, Justice to the Maimed Soldier: Nursing, Medical Care and Welfare for Sick and Wounded Soldiers and their Families during the English Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1642-1660 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001). G. Keynes (ed.) The Apologie and Treatise of Ambroise Paré, 1585 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952). I. Pells, ‘Reassessing frontline medical practitioners of the British Civil Wars in the context of the seventeenth-century medical world’, The Historical Journal, 62:2 (2019), pp. 399–425. S. M. Rutherford, ‘Ground-breaking pioneers or dangerous amateurs? Did early-modern surgery have any basis in medical science?’, in I. Pells (ed.), New Approaches to the Military History of the English Civil War (Stroud: Helion and Company, 2016), pp. 153–85. S. M. Rutherford, ‘A new kind of surgery for a new kind of war: gunshot wounds and their treatment in the British Civil Wars’, in D.J. Appleby and A. Hopper (eds), Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018), pp. 57–77.
Wounds, battlefield trauma, and their survivability in the British Civil Wars
This week's blog is the second in a trilogy of blogs which have been written for us by our colleague Professor Stephen M. Rutherford of the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University. His previous blog used examples drawn from Civil War Petitions to illuminate the nature of the physical damage inflicted on the body by gunshot wounds sustained during the Civil Wars. This instalment uses the evidence from Civil War Petitions to discuss the tricky issue of surgical effectiveness and survivability... Corporal John Barret of Captain Cotton’s Company, on the Parliamentarian side in a skirmish at Painswick, Gloucestershire, 1644, suffered a horrible fate at the hands of the enemy. Shortly afterwards, he reported to the Parliamentarian Governor of Gloucester, Colonel Edward Massey (signed Massie in the petition), who then endorsed his petition, that he had been set upon by two cavalrymen and six infantrymen, whereupon he was cut ‘downe and left for dead: and having receaved Tenne wounds of them [they] stript me starck nacked to the very skine’. He reported that ‘ever since that time I have layne bedrid under the Cyrurgions hands and now I being able to rise I can not for want of Cloths’. Colonel Massey confirmed that John had ‘receved 7 wounds in the head 5 of them therow the scull [one] cut in the backe (to the bons [bones]) with a pole axe his elbow cut off bons and all: his hand slitt downe betwine the fingers.’ We do not know whether Corporal Barret survived these wounds long-term, but he certainly survived long enough to make the petition, and described his effective treatment: ‘Mr Caradine the Cyerrugion [surgeon] afermeth who hath almost Cured them al (and very car[e]fuly and willingly he hath taken the pains to do it) how to satisfie him we know not he was never the man that asked us a farthing.’ The extent of Corporal Barret’s wounds were extreme – including scalping the skull down to the bone, as well as a bone-deep cut in the back, several other wounds, and the loss of an arm. The fact that he did not die on the battlefield is remarkable, but the fact that he survived long enough to petition the Governor for clothes and means to repay the surgeon show clearly the capability of surgeons in the British Civil Wars. The injuries treated by Mr Caradine were more extreme than some modern day military wounds, and yet he lived to tell the tale. Surgeons and physicians in the early modern period have gained a reputation in the popular mind as savage butchers with little or no understanding of medicine. However, recent historiography in this area – especially the work of Ismini Pells on Civil War military surgeons (Pells, see also Rutherford, 2016 and 2018) has highlighted that surgeons in this period did undertake procedures that had substantial merit in biomedical terms. Indeed many of the procedures pioneered in this period are still in use in modern military medicine today (Rutherford, 2018). Far from being unskilled and ineffective, there is evidence of early modern surgeons practicing a form of ‘Evidence-based Medicine'. That is using empirical evidence of their experiences and reports to guide and refine medical practice. Such practitioners included Ambroise Paré, sixteenth-century surgeon to the Kings of France, James Cooke, Parliamentarian surgeon during the Civil Wars, and Richard Wiseman, personal surgeon to Charles Prince of Wales, and later Sergeant Surgeon to him as King Charles II. The following video demonstrates the extent to which a cheap sword, quality sword, and dagger could injure a human limb (the video uses a leg of meat as an equivalent substitute): From this video you will see that even a cheap, mass-produced sword wielded by an inexperienced swordsman, could potentially cut several inches into an unprotected limb. A heavier, better quality sword was capable of a cut of 10-15cm in depth, and about 20cm in width – easily sufficient to sever a limb or cut into an unprotected skull. Battlefield archaeology from earlier conflicts, such as the Battle of Towton in Yorkshire (1461), or the Battle of Visby in Sweden (1361), display numerous examples of severed limbs and cuts deep enough to slice or shatter bone. Even if the limb was not shattered, the cut would be deep enough to make repair difficult or potentially impossible. The challenge to a military surgeon, therefore, was considerable. Without the proper medical records it is not possible to determine the survival rate of injuries suffered by Civil-War soldiers. What can be inferred, however, is some degree of effectiveness of surgical procedures from the evidence of the extent of wounds survived by Civil-War soldiers. In the archaeological finds mentioned above, there were examples of skeletons of persons surviving quite catastrophic injuries (severed or broken limbs, sword cuts deep enough to scar the bone, for example) long enough for those injuries to heal and the bones to fuse or produce new growth. The petitions uncovered and transcribed as part of this project give some valuable insights into both the wounds suffered by soldiers (and some civilians) in the Civil Wars, and also the extent to which these wounds were potentially survivable, after effective medical care. For example, the certificate for William Gray of Braintree, Essex, (8 April 1657) reported that he was ‘very much Debilitated in his limbs’, and that his ‘Legge hath beene brocken in many peeces’, and yet appears to have healed sufficiently for it not to need to be amputated. Another petitioner, John Ellis, of Dewsbury, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, reported (October, 1674) that he had received ‘received severall Wounds in severall partes of his body’, claiming that these had made him ‘impotent, lame and [decrepid] not able to worke for a livelihood’. William Sudbury of Woodnewton, Northamptonshire was reported (while requesting an increase to his pension, Trinity, 1674) to have received ‘13 wounds in his head & body very dangerous, but also the fingers of one of his hands cut [off]’. These substantial injuries disabled William from making a living, but the fact that he was able to survive such extreme damage to his body is quite remarkable. David ap Jevan of Bersham of Denbighshire (certificate dated 20 September, 1663) also had digits cut from his (left) hand, sufficient wounding to stop him being able to make a living for himself, but a wound that he survived for at least 20 years after his initial injury (at Holt Bridge in November 1643). These would have been wounds received on a dirty battlefield, and which would have been treated either in situ, or close by at a lodging. The patient would need to survive potentially catastrophic blood loss and shock at the moment of injury, and then also survive the potential infection of the wound at a time long before the discovery of antibiotics. A review of the approaches adopted by early modern surgeons (in particular military surgeons) highlights that there was a good level of understanding about suturing or bandaging of wounds, and the control of post-operative infection. There were a range of different suture methods, described by authors, such as Wiseman and Cooke, each with a specific wound type to be used for. There was also a range of ligatures (use of bandages to seal wounds) adopted as an alternative approach. Antibacterial agents, such as alcohol or posca (a water/vinegar mix) were used on equipment and bandages. Egg albumen or honey (the latter's high-sugar concentration being a natural antibacterial agent) were used as salves to keep the wound healthy. Even though in the seventeenth century there was no understanding of the biology behind microbial infections, the surgeons were aware of the effectiveness of these approaches, and even disdainful of other, less-effective methods. The efficacy of many of their approaches has stood the test of time, and are still in use in modern medicine. For example, in the post-operative management of infections, a common strategy was to leave the wound un-sutured and open for several days, the tissue kept apart by a ‘tent’ (a roll of bandage inserted into the cut). The wound was left until the flesh was ‘like flesh long hang’d in the air’ (Wiseman, p. 428). This approach, termed in modern medicine ‘delayed primary closure’ is in common use today for the treatment of conditions such as appendicitis, compartment syndrome, and some military injuries, most recently in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq (Leininger, Rasmussen, Smith, Jenkins and Coppola). This approach for encouraging the body to treat its own infection (the theory - which even today is not confirmed - is that the open wound encourages the flow of lymph, which in turn encourages that accumulation of white blood cells and stimulates the immune response at the wound site) is seen in medical manuals from the mid-sixteenth century, and in manuals from numerous major conflicts over the subsequent centuries (Rutherford, 2016). Recovery from extreme injuries was slow and uncertain. Details of the extensive hospital care provided to some soldiers in the Civil Wars have been researched extensively by Eric Gruber von Arni, who revealed what was often an organised and systematic process of patient care, not least of which was the high calorific intake for patients, to aid their recovery. But the experience recorded in the certificate for Thomas Wayte of Doncaster in the West Riding of Yorkshire (March 1668) illustrates the extensive nature of this recovery period. It was reported that Thomas ‘resaiued [received] such desp[e]rate wounds, that he lay most dangerously on them for three or foure years together.’ This long-term need for care, and the requirement for support of disabled soldiers after their recovery, was frequently down to their families and community, as Ismini Pells and David Appleby have discussed in their blogs on this website: ‘Old Wives’ Tales: Long-term Medical Care during the English Civil Wars’ and ‘Members of one another’s miseries’: care in the community during and after the Civil Wars’. It is clear from these petitions that soldiers did survive catastrophic and life-changing injuries, often living with them for decades after they were inflicted. The physical and mental challenges of living with disabilities caused by traumatic injuries would have been considerable. It is remarkable, however, that soldiers with such extensive injuries survived at all, and a re-evaluation of the medical practices, and their effectiveness, of early modern surgeons has the potential to reveal significant insights into the development of surgical procedures, and the extent of their medical validity. It is a trope that ‘war drives innovation’, and this may well be true for the pioneering surgeons and medical practitioners in the British Civil Wars. One wound type, mentioned in my previous blog, that was of major significance in the Civil Wars was injury from gunshots. Injuries from such wounds were another challenge entirely, and the third blog in this series will look at the approaches taken for their treatment. References and further reading For further reading into the practitioners of medicine and surgery in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, an excellent resource is the Early Modern Medical Practitioners Project at the University of Exeter. This project has a range of different foci on early modern medicine, including cataloguing as many examples of named medical practitioners as can be identified. Primary Sources J. Cooke, Supplementum Chirurgiae, or the supplement to the Marrow of Chyrurgerie (London, 1655). J. Cooke, Mellificium Chirurgiae, or the Marrow of Chirurgery much enlarged (London, 1676). A. Paré (T. Johnson, translation), The workes of that famous chirurgion Ambrose Parey translated out of the Latine and compared with the French (London, 1634). R. Wiseman, Severall Chirurgical Treatises (London: Norton and Maycock, 1676). Secondary Works E. Gruber von Arni, Justice to the Maimed Soldier: Nursing, Medical Care and Welfare for Sick and Wounded Soldiers and their Families during the English Civil Wars and Interregnum, 1642–1660 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001). B. E. Leininger, T. E. Rasmussen, D. L. Smith, D. Jenkins and C. Coppola, ‘Experience with Wound VAC and Delayed Primary Closure of Contaminated Soft Tissue Injuries in Iraq’, Journal of Trauma Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 61 (2006), pp. 1207-11. I. Pells, ‘Reassessing frontline medical practitioners of the British Civil Wars in the context of the seventeenth-century medical world’, The Historical Journal, 62:2 (2019), pp 399-425. S. M. Rutherford, ‘Ground-breaking pioneers or dangerous amateurs? Did early-modern surgery have any basis in medical science?’, in I. Pells (ed.), New Approaches to the Military History of the English Civil War (Stroud: Helion and Company, 2016), pp. 153–85. S. M. Rutherford, ‘A new kind of surgery for a new kind of war: gunshot wounds and their treatment in the British Civil Wars’, in D.J. Appleby and A. Hopper (eds), Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018), pp. 57-77.